REACHING FOR THE OMNICHANNEL BRASS RING
First published on RetailOnlineIntegration.com blog November 2014
© 2014 Susan J. McIntyre
Do you have a 360° view of your customers? Can you attribute sales accurately to each channel? Are you creating the right omnichannel contact strategy for each customer?
No? Hold onto your hat. Neither is anyone else.
How do I know? Recently, I was privileged to be one of 10 "Gurus" at DMA 2014 in San Diego. Attendees came to each of us throughout the day for 15 minute appointments and many questions. Here's a recap of the questions I heard from those attendees and others.
MOST-ASKED QUESTIONS I HEARD
"How can I track sales from all channels?"
"How can I attribute sales to the proper channel?"
"How can I combine all the data coming from all the channels in a way that's actionable?"
"How do I get a 360° view of my customers, in all the channels they're using?"
"How do I find a platform or service provider who can put together a 360° view for me?"
These questions came from giant marketers, small marketers, B2B and B2C.
First, don't feel bad about your situation. It turns out that no company currently has a 360° customer view, and no platform currently exists for getting it. The 360° omnichannel view is currently an idea, not a reality.
A great panel discussion made this clear (panelists included IBM, Oracle and Teradata). Some quotes:
"...need data", "...most enterprise companies don't know what data they have", "...automating deliveries of data for each channel we're getting pretty good at — stitching it all together is what's hard", "We're in uncharted territory re how to integrate", "...getting there". And "...whoever can inhale it all and output it in a meaningful way will win."
Translation: "We're working on it, but we're not there yet." The panelists and their clients were all giant companies who could afford to get there.
But what about the rest of us?
There are over 12,000 catalogs in the US and Canada and most are not giant companies with giant resources. One medium-sized cataloger told me:
"Our website can't capture where the orders or prospects come from. But it wouldn't help if it could, because our legacy order management system lacks fields to store that data even if we could track it."
This is not an unusual situation. I hear it all the time. So what can you do if you're in the same boat? Wait 15 years and hope a small-scale, affordable data platform appears? Who can wait that long and hope to still be around and competitive?
Here are suggestions for forging ahead while we're all waiting for a small-scale data-platform miracle:
STEPS TO TAKE
1. Become a data guerrilla
Even with legacy systems, you can gather a lot of data outside the systems. Test and measure, test and measure whenever and whatever you can. Mailings can be measured via matchbacks, emails via email analytics. Surveys can answer questions like “approximately what percent of our catalog customers first came via web?”, “How many of our good-value customers contact us via Facebook?”, etc. You can develop — not perfect knowledge — but pretty good rules of thumb from such data, from percent of sales to attribute per channel, to best mailing frequency for customer segments.
2. Become a data evangelist
Keep working on convincing your team of the value of improving systems. Tell creative "this data will make your creative more successful." Tell sales "this data will drive growth." Tell finance "this data will improve the bottom line." Prove it by sharing reports, tests and surveys. Structure results in one-page top-line views for quick access (to get them read). And be sure to summarize what the data says, why it's important and steps that can be taken because of the new knowledge the data provides.