One thing that is painfully obvious, is that not one brand has all the bases covered. At the moment it feels like – at least in the trade press and conference conversation, that there’s a land grab to become the omnichannel retailer of the future. This feeling engenders an air of panic. Those that don’t understand how to ‘transform’ and embed new ways of working, employ new ways of servicing & selling, feel like they’re missing something. People are looking about anxiously for the answer – but to be frank if they’re feeling like that, they are missing something.
It’s also clear that the ‘transformation’ process that dominates much of current conversation is just that – a process. It’s a clearly mapped set of steps and an applied methodology to resolving internal challenges. Beyond the infrastructure and governance issues, then you have technology and forward thinking strategy. Again, there are many providers and practitioners that can help here and established processes to help you find the right solutions to your specific requirements (note your specific brand requirements – no one ‘cure all’).
What I’m saying is that the answers are all there. Out there. Not even that hard to find – you just need to be methodical and strategic in your thinking. Methodologies and strategies for problem resolution have been around since time immemorial. So if you feel that you’re not sure what omnichannel experience means or what digital transformation is – you’re in trouble my friend, you don’t understand your business. I’m not trying to be smug or condescending, it’s simply that these things are just semantics. As the Head of UX for one of Internet Retailing’s Top 500 ‘Elite’ said to me:
We just want to make it easier for people to buy things. We just sell things, people want to buy things.
Am I being facetious? No. Of course there’s complexity in resolving all the challenges a retailer faces. B2B and consumer technologies have evolved and therefore behavioural economics have changed. Similarly, spurred on by this evolution in tech’ – the pace at which brand adaptation and adoption needs to happen has also accelerated massively. It’s just that if you work in marketing, in retail – then you need to try not to believe some of the hype. All challenges are surmountable, just don’t become confounded by the perceived problem and superfluous industry lingo.
Be aware of gurus, be aware of jack of all trades wildly throwing out de rigueur industry terms like they’re some new edgy dancefloor moves.
Of course these terms pass into the common vernacular, it’s part and parcel of trying to distill down phraseology into a succinct idea. No one likes information overload. It’s all about simplification so you can deliver your message as best as possible. Just know what the thinking behind the buzzword is yeah?
Going back to the original point and the (hopefully reassuring) suggestion that no one retailer has it covered – look at Internet Retailing’s Top 500. The newly released report benchmarks the Top 500 Multichannel retailers against certain criteria highlighting standout performers as ‘Elite’. We speak to these guys – on a weekly basis we’re in with one or another. From those with an industry leading testing plan and incremental optimisation at their core, to luxury brands perceived to be at the cutting edge of digital innovation – they all have their challenges.
Internet Retailing’s Top 500 benchmarking criteria:
- Strategy and Innovation
- Customer Operations and Logistics
- Brand and Engagement
- Mobile and Cross-channel
If you’re at the coal face of a scientific approach to design, testing hundreds hypotheses a year then it’s likely you need support on tying together the overall brand experience and emotive triggers.
If you’re a global luxury power house – it’s likely that your creative team are so empowered that the idea of having their design work tested is an anathema in the same way blind faith is to science. Designing for brand ego is not customer centric.
If you’re the most customer service focussed brand around – and you’re falling over yourself to offer all the delivery & returns options a consumer could want, brilliant. But there you’ve created complexity in itself. How do you signpost these clearly and succinctly in the buying journey without overcomplicating.
If you’re one of the most loved brands in the UK, have resource spilling about and ninja talent all around – you’ve probably got the same problems of any large organisation, how do you make a cruise liner as agile as a catamaran?
It’s reassuring to us knowing that we can help – and it hopefully gives reassurance to anyone reading that there’s no need to panic. Stand back, appraise and think about the challenges specific to you. Ignore the hype and the bullshit that abounds.