Thursday, February 12, 2015
CEOs & CMOs: Omni-Channel Retailing? Nail it and Win big!
CEOs and CMOs in the e-commerce and retailing business: It’s Now than ever that business executives need Omni-Channel strategies to maximize profits and grow market share. As an IMC graduate student at Medill school of Northwestern University, I’ve been doing research on retailing and online/offline marketing integration, and I have found the following two articles helpful and insightful.
In "Why the online/offline split no longer matters" published by Grey Williams at www.wired.co.uk, the author addressed the significant changes on the UK market (which nevertheless reflected the universal phenomenon of blurring lines between "the bricks and the clicks"), then went on talking about what brands and retailers could do to integrate online and offline shopping for consumers. His ideas of "bring the online experience into the real world", "create a richer in-store experience", "target customers appropriately”, "take advantage of smart pricing", "reward customers for more than purchasing", and "leverage your consumer's tech” are articulated with real-life examples as well as great comments from professionals.
(Image from Ikea's "Place IKEA furniture in your home with augmented reality" video on Youtube)
At warc.com, Gian M. Fulgoni provided more insights in his article: "Omni-Channel Retail Insights and the Consumer’s Path-to-Purchase: How Digital Has Transformed the Way People Make Purchasing Decisions". With the fast growing e-commerce channel and mobile technology, consumers’ path-to-purchase has varied tremendously. Marketers need to tailor their strategies relative to different channels while maintaining a consistent voice across various platforms. They also need to constantly keep their eyes on the wants and needs of consumers. The author talked about important issues such as "how offline is influencing e-commerce" and "mobile is playing an increasingly significant role in the today’s market".
Based on the reading and my learning at IMC program at Northwestern University, here are three things I would recommend:
1. A Consumer-centric approach is vital - When it comes to put all the pieces together, a consumer-focused approach is fundamental to help marketers retain focused, understand customers’ actual needs, and build close relationships with high value customers.
2. Build on mobile, leverage new technology - Mobile is really the key link of online and offline operation. At the same time, mobile is one of the fastest growing channel worth of significant investment for some retailers. As more and more consumers are engaging with brands through mobile platforms, wise marketers will make sure that they have strong presence there too.
3. Consistency, standardization & flexibility - Different channels provide different opportunities as well as limitations. Marketers need a consistent voice, and it is flexibility helps the voice adapt to different channels. Marketers also need standardization to ensure efficient management of their operations as well as the quality of services.
By taking those three recommended actions, marketers would largely benefit both consumers and their brands. Here are a few fun take-aways: ten retail and e-commerce stores who are doing great jobs on integrating offline with online , written by Christopher Ratcliff at Econcultancy.
My name is Juliette Chen, I worked as brand manager, creative director, designer and strategic visual planner, both in Europe and China. I am now a graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communication at Medill School of Northwestern University. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me on Linkedin and Twitter.