Why Omnichannel Requires Omnisystems

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Why Omnichannel Requires Omnisystems

By Meyar Sheik, CEO, Certona - 10/24/2016
Consumers today enjoy connected digital experiences as they navigate the shopping process. They can research products, compare prices, read reviews and share what they're doing on social networks from anywhere, anytime. The mobile boom has enabled the immediate accessing of information, which has helped tie the new shopping journey to the traditional brick-and-mortar experience. As a result, omnichannel shopping has become the new normal.

The shopper's journey crosses an increasing number of channels. Retailers have kept pace, adding email, social and mobile as demand for these channels increased. In going multichannel to reach shoppers across all touch points, retailers began to leverage personalization to improve the customer experience — and as a result, they began to improve their conversion rates as well.

Omnichannel personalization is the evolution of this multichannel approach. It breaks down data silos and integrates personalization in three important ways:

Channel integration vs. siloed approach: Instead of a "search strategy" or a "mobile strategy," omnichannel personalization considers all channels as part of one experience. Channels are not personalized in isolation. They are integrated to create a single, individually relevant experience across all touchpoints.

Business strategy integration: Omnichannel personalization unifies the departments within retail organizations and focuses them on common goals of increased revenue and an enhanced shopping experience. Instead of concentrating on separate channels individually, teams coordinate their efforts to create an enhanced experience for the shopper (translating into boosted revenue).

Data integration: Data is at the heart of omnichannel personalization. To effectively tailor the experience, data is collected, scored and applied in real time. Channel-specific data sets are combined and organized to give a complete view of each shopper's behavior. Shoppers do not live in one channel, and they don't expect retailers to do so either. It has become imperative to have everything be interconnected and consistent from messaging, to look and feel, and of course, the shopping experience.

The underlying promise of omnichannel personalization is a consistent brand presence and the ability to deliver a customized shopping experience across any channel. While shoppers tend to immediately associate brand consistency with uniformity in color scheme, logo use and general look and feel, the backend solutions driving the digital experiences cannot be forgotten.

Delivering a consistent and optimal shopping experience requires that retailers accurately align their order information systems with product information systems across all channels consistently. Ensuring this functionality, as challenging as it may be, is essential because it establishes a single version of the truth for product attributes and descriptions, regardless of channels.

Putting this into context, having a single truth guarantees that shoppers are always getting the most up-to-date information about a retailer's products. This means that they will be able to walk into a brick-and-mortar storefront and find the product they just researched and found online on the same retailer's website. Taking it a step further, when integrated with personalization, customers will see products and content that are both individually relevant and available.

Another important part of the omnichannel approach is eliminating the "you don't know me" experience. For example, if a shopper purchased a gray suit in-store, the next time they browse that retailer's website, that same gray suit should not be recommended. Instead, retailers should seize the opportunity to cross-sell additional, relevant items based off shoppers' omnichannel behavior to help complete the look.

As omnichannel priorities increase, new trends are emerging. Savvy retailers are looking to innovate and influence shoppers by offering new ways of shopping such as "Buy Online Pick-up In-store" (BOPIS) and "Buy Online Return In-store" (BORIS). This allows the consumer to shop in the way that is most convenient for them and their lifestyle. It also sets up the retailer for new selling opportunities. Retailers need to personalize the experience by understanding what the shopper purchased and with a little prep time, have some tailored items set aside that the shopper might like based on current and past purchases. It's also a great idea to keep impulse items at the registers where the online customer will engage with the retail associate.

Optimizing customer data for an enhanced shopper experience is essential. Retailers that implement omnichannel programs are able to constantly improve the choices made in their personalization strategies by analyzing real-time behavioral, historical and catalog data as the consumer engages across channels. From the web to the contact center, email marketing and all other touch points, omnichannel personalization will bolster loyalty and drive up revenue. But in order to provide the ideal channel-agnostic experiences that are expected, consistency needs to be kept at the forefront of retailers' minds. It is a foundational element of omnichannel success.


Meyar Sheik is CEO of Certona, which creates omnichannel personalization software.