IABC The Voice Podcast: Omni channel Reality Check: Panacea or Pain? Published February 25, 2015

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1 IABC The Voice Podcast: Omni channel Reality Check: Panacea or Pain? Published February 25, 2015 Hello, listeners. I m really excited about this episode. Today we ll be delving into the world of omni channel marketing. For those not familiar with the term, omni channel is the ability to provide customers with a personalized path to purchase through seamless web, mobile, in store, social, call centre, kiosk, direct sales and channel sales experiences. Large and small retailers are both struggling to achieve this, which begs the question: Is omni channel a golden panacea or an insurmountable world of hurt? I explored this big question at the National Retail Federation s Big Show 2015, a conference that brings together innovators in the retail realm. I ve boiled down the many ideas discussed at the conference into five steps for omni channel success. This is by no means an all inclusive report, so please weigh in with your opinions on our Facebook page or tweet The first step is determining if your company is ready to take on the omni channel challenge. Vicki Cantrall, Shop.org s executive director and senior vice president of communities, said managing organizational and operational change is key. Vicki Cantrall: The two big areas of omni channel that retailers are dealing with are organizational and operational. Organization is how your organization is structured which was in silos and how to blend them and merge them to best service the customer, and operational is several facets. It s how the operations in your store works or in your warehouse and how to train the associates. To begin merging these areas, Cantrall recommends task forces with marketers, merchandisers and IT staff working together on small projects. She also stressed that larger retailers are sometimes guilty of saying the customer is the focus without changing organizational structure to reflect it.

2 Vicki Cantrall: If you re comfortable having your best customer sitting in all of your meetings and you re comfortable with what you say, you know you re doing it right. Satish Mehta: Second, retailers need to get focused. For larger companies, make sure corporate expectations for omni channel are in line with readiness to execute. Otherwise, marketers could be on the hook for unachievable results. Smaller companies can benefit from this same advice, while also acknowledging that deciding where to invest scarce resources may be the priority consideration. One place to start is ecommerce, said Adam Silverman, Forrester s principal analyst. In this role, Silverman serves ebusiness and channel strategy professionals. At the Big Show 2015, he said exposing inventory online is one of the fastest ways to get a return on investment. Companies should ensure accurate amounts and assortments of inventory are easily visible to both customers and employees. That way, consumers aren t trying to order out of stock items and employees can better manage the customer experience. Silverman also said only 19 per cent of customers feel sales associates are the best source of information. Which leads us to my third point, data. I spoke with Satish Mehta, vice president of Enterprise Data at Staples, about how retailers should use data to target customers tastefully. Here s what he had to say: We are bringing all the data from the management systems, from the s and transactional and interactional data into big data clusters and then combining and stitching it together on those new technologies as well as using old legacy systems, bringing it all together and then showing it through a very palatable, consumable UI to our customer support guys, to our sales guys so they can target the customer in a tasteful way and not in a intrusive way.

3 Satish Mehta: We ll dig deeper into tasteful ways to target customers in a second. And for listeners who aren t masters of the technical side of marketing, Mehta is saying retailers need to consolidate data and serve it through user interfaces to customer facing and non customer facing employees. In the podcast notes on our website, you ll find images of the employee UIs that Nespresso (the coffee giant) presented at NRF s Big Show I recommend you check them out. But what if your company isn t at Staples level of data management? The first step is sorting our master data, according to Mehta. The first thing they need to do is sort out the master data management on the customer side. And based on that master data they need to figure out how to get all of the user data, all the online data into one single data store which can be a collection of different technologies but how do we bring all of that data into one place and then start leveraging that? That s key for a customer. Mehta s advice flows into our fourth big takeaway: empower your analysts. Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of the Women s Tennis Association, spoke at the conference about the role of analysts in sports marketing. Stacey Allaster: At the end of the day, it ll be really investing in analysts. People who know how to understand this data and translate this data into how we engage with fans. We re all sports people, and that s what a lot of our front offices look like. And there s a transformation that s going to go on in our industry of real, IT young data driven. They re going to be the ones who help us, one customer at a time. In my opinion, everyone should have some hand in being a data analyst. This means hiring and training employees at all levels and across customer touchpoints to use data to inform interaction. That extends to everyone from in store sales associates to call center reps to your director of marketing analytics.

4 Nathan Stern: Some companies have implemented this strategy successfully. I spoke with Nathan Stern, senior marketing director of BevMo!, which sells alcoholic beverages. He said his company has four key ways to engage customers at each touchpoint. The first of those being centralized customer view, getting all of that dispersed data into one place so we can have a single view of the customer and their interactions with us. The second would be actionable segmentation. Really breaking our customer groups up into things we can actually use, what they re buying, when they re visiting us. Thirdly is testing and learning and making sure that every campaign is smarter than the last. So we re consistently learning using control groups what works, what doesn t work so we can improve ROI. And last but not least, surprising and delighting in big ways and in little ways so we re always relevant to our customers. An example of that is an automated upsell campaign that we do with a lot of our key suppliers. For example, with Jack Daniels when customers purchase that who haven t previously tried the higher mark product, they automatically get an with information about Gentleman Jack Daniels, why it costs a little bit more, why they should try it and an offer to try it to see if they like it. David Dorf: Like Tennis Allaster and Staples Mehta, Stern is stressing how data consolidation, presentation and consumption all come together to power seamless, personalized omni channel experiences. The final tip I ll offer today is a stellar piece of advice from David Dorf, Sr. Director of Technology Strategy at Oracle Retail. His advice is to use technology to be the butler, not the stalker. There s the in store and there s the online. On the in store side, one of the things that s really come to fruition is using BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons to actually target customers within the store. And one of the key principles to that is really to be the butler, and not the stalker. So, a butler is there to be helpful, friendly, and gives you what you need at the time that you need it. As opposed to that stalker that s constantly spamming you and knows too much about you.

5 David Dorf: Dorf said the key to the butler strategy is reaching customers with a relevant offer at the exact time they want to buy something. But it doesn t end there. It s not about giving away margin. So retailers don t just want to give away coupons on the things that you always buy anyway. It s really about moving you to new categories, to increasing your basket size, to making you aware of new products that that retailer has to offer. So how are other organizations leveraging that butler strategy? R.B. Harrison, Chief Omni channel Officer at Macy s, provides insight into their approach. R.B. Harrison: We re trying to put the customer at the center of all of our decisions. She s shopping in an increasingly integrated manner between digital channels and our store channels and we re working to really try and make that a seamless experience for her, so that we can take care of her, no matter how she wants to shop online, in store, mobile and most importantly when there s a convergence of all of them...where you want to share information with us, we re going to try and give you a more contextually relevant experience. R.B. Harrison: Harrison also said Macy s invests heavily in mobile. He said it s key to connecting their shoppers to products and information. At the same time, mobile technology empowers their sales associates to better service customers in store. In terms of mobile, Paraag Marathe, team president of the San Francisco 49ers, said they created an app to engage fans who come watch the 49ers play at Levi s Stadium. They made the app frictionless and 50% of fans at each game are opting in to use it for up to an hour. At the end of the day, omni channel is all about showing customers you understand them by providing valuable, in context advice and offers on the customer s terms. Macy s R.B. Harrison summed this up nicely at the Big Show 2015.

6 I think it s really to focus on the customer. And recognize that customer isn t transacting with you in one spot. She is being influenced by the competition, she s being influenced by what you do both digitally and in store. And if you don t look at her holistically you re going to miss major components and someone else is going to go after that customer. And there you have it five steps to omni channel success. To recap: First, assess your company s omni channel maturity. Second, harness the potential of data, Third, help employees consume and interpret data. Fourth, empower your employees with UIs. And finally, be the butler and not the stalker. Omni channel is complicated and can be very expensive. Get focused, prioritize, and take it on in manageable phases. Don t forget to Facebook or Tweet us with your comments, I d love to hear your experiences with omni channel marketing.

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