By Andrew Macey
Black Friday sales for 2010 were up only 0.3% over last year, yet online sales are up 16% against last year. Sixty percent to 70% of offline, store and catalog sales are now impacted in some way by digital commerce, either through comparative ratings and reviews, research, or targeted promotions and personalized campaigns. Almost all retailers are making significant investments, ranging in scale from about 1% to 3% of revenue, in cross-channel capabilities including online, mobile, and social media to build brand and drive new revenue streams.
Despite all this momentum and spend, however, few companies have managed to successfully bring together the thinking, skills, and experience required to create a unified, successful cross-channel organization. What’s required for a company to build a successful cross-channel organization? How does one ensure maximum return on all those investment dollars?
The first and most important step is to think of cross-channel as a combination of touch-points that together must create a seamless customer experience, and an organization has to accommodate that change in thinking. It doesn’t matter whether your customer is buying online to pick up in the store, returning online purchases to the store, doing comparative price checks on a phone while in the store, or using mobile coupons in the store – marketing and merchandising have to be able to work together to create that seamless customer experience. A helpful tool to use is a day-in-the-life map of what your customer actually does and wants to be able to do as s/he moves from online to store to catalog and back again. Design a set of experiences around those day-in-the-life scenarios.
Recognize that any organization has to evolve over time. It’s not reasonable to believe that all best practices and new ideas can be adopted from day one. A framework that can be helpful to gauge relative strength is the use of a maturity model with varying levels of maturity as they develop more cross-channel capabilities. Aspects of the organization should be evaluated, designed, and built with respect to different criteria i.e. incentives and rewards, people and culture, business processes, technology, and internal structure as companies develop a more sophisticated set of capabilities.
Figure out where the current organization lies within the maturity model by assessin