In my last post I outlined how we need to start changing our thinking about multichannel, in particular the fact that we will need to start addressing a collection of touchpoints that we offer to the consumer and provide a good user experience across all of these.
Now, the message that the user experience needs to be spot on is not new, but the fact it now needs to be good across every channel provides a whole new challenge, and neither our systems, nor our organisations are geared up for it.
Organisations have typically been very channel oriented and traditionally this focused on only one, maybe two channels per organisation. In retail it was the store or the catalogue, in B2B the direct sales person, a catalogue or a branch.
With this and associated cultures firmly fixed in the ‘mind’ of the organisation, additional channels haven’t always been welcomed with open arms, or even if they are, there may be a lack of understanding about the way that they operate, which is different to the ‘traditional’ channel we all know and love.
Even more challenging is the lack of clarity about how we combine the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ channels, not just to co-exist, but also to contribute to each other to achieve customer conversion across multiple touchpoints.
A required mind-shift associated with this is the need to start moving away from ‘online’ and ‘offline’ channels. Nice and easy concepts for people that feel more at home in one camp than the other, but the reality is that soon ALL channels will be ‘internet enabled’.
Mobile POS technology driven by e-commerce software has already made an entry into the stores of more forward-thinking retailers, for example, and more and more printed materials these days come with QR codes to link the reader straight to a mobile or web presence to investigate the product further, or even buy it.
The internet enablement of life is a fact and it is not until this realisation has really sunk into an organisation it can be truly effective as a multichannel retailer.
Now, probably because of that lack of cultural understanding, as well as rapidly implemented single channel solutions to keep up with the latest trends and satisfy excited C-level execs (and I won’t single out Marketing), I don’t think there are many, if any, companies that can say that they have the IT infrastructure in place to efficiently manage or possibly even support this new concept of multichannel user experience.
Unfortunately your average e-commerce platform is not geared up to run multiple touchpoints, including the traditional offline ones, from a single platform.
A growing need to enable, support and manage this new multichannel experience however, will drive a significant change in the IT landscape of retailers, brands and manufacturers, especially where it concerns the customer touchpoints.
Consistent delivery of content gathered from across multiple channels and re-distributed across others and centrally orchestrated and personalised user experiences, again driven by data gathered from all channels, are the new standards of the very near future.
I don’t think it’s too long before we can say ‘goodbye’ to the traditional e-commerce platforms and say ‘hello’ to a new breed of ‘customer interaction’ platforms.