As I mentioned in my previous post about retailers on the Kings Road and their cross channel promotion activity (or lack of it), there are still many independent retailers struggling with making the first steps towards multichannel marketing.
If you sell through a number of channels already, such as catalogue, store, phone and web, you are already a ‘multiple -channel’ retailer. But how do you start joining the dots to make your customers’ journey between those channels consistent and seamless and therefore become a true multichannel retailer?
Integrating your sales channels successfully is a long term project that will involve significant investment and changes across your entire business from marketing, to store, to logistics. However, there are a few things you can get cracking with now to gain traction until you have larger budgets to attack the bigger projects.
This is the first in a series of blog posts I am writing on how independent retailers can begin making sense of the multichannel journey and start joining digital marketing with direct marketing and in-store to create holistic campaigns that address your customers’ expectations.
The first thing you need to do before putting together your multichannel plan is to carry out a period of research and insight.
The key to successful multichannel retail is to give your customers the journey they WANT and not what you think they do. Therefore, I would recommend that you simply ASK them! Survey your customers asking them what channels they used during their purchase journey before they bought from you AND what channels they are most likely to use or want to use in the future. Make your questions product specific too. Some may use your website to purchase smaller products but prefer to buy larger ticket items in-store. Some may use your catalogue for research and then buy online. Some may like to discuss products with staff in-store but then purchase online for home delivery.
Make sure you know the channels they use for research, the channels they use to purchase, what channels they like to engage with you through (email, social, phone) and the delivery options that suit them best. All of this information will help you to start planning your marketing, merchandising and logistics strategies to offer the experience your customers want and increasingly expects from you.
It is likely you are using a number of different tools and technologies within your business to gain insight into what your customers are buying and how they are behaving; website analytics, ecrm systems, stock management systems, pos systems, ecommerce platforms…the list goes on. These of course are all essential business tools but when analysed in silos only reveal isolated parts of the customer story.
Understanding which of your sales channels are driving revenue and their value is a fundamental part of planning your multichannel strategy. You may think your catalogue, as a marketing tool, is not working for you but do you know how many people receiving your catalogue go on to purchase from your site? Do you know how many people who come across you online are then going into store to make a purchase?
Being able to track all of the channels that a customer moves through before final purchase will give you the absolute building blocks of a multichannel strategy and help you prioritise budget and resource across your channels.
A good analytics provider can start to help you join these dots but this can require reasonable investment. To try and limit the resource required you can take simple steps to understanding the cross channel journey taken by your customers by selecting one ‘identifier’ that you can start recording and building into your marketing and sales processes.
For example, if you record that someone has used a particular postcode on your website storefinder and then that same postcode is recorded at purchase in the store later on you are collecting the data across two different systems that can then be plugged into a good analytics program to track that the customer’s journey began online.
If you track the postcodes of those you send catalogues to and then collect this information again at the point of sale in-store then, again, you have the data to start joining the dots of that particular customer journey.
Don’t get me wrong, you will still need a great analytics provider who can pull all of the data you collect and interrogate it but to ease the process you can put relatively simple and cost-effective steps in place now to start the recording basic customer journeys.
If you can find out what your customers really want from you and how they are currently behaving across your channels then the marketing activity, infrastructure and logistics required to deliver a more compelling multichannel strategy will suddenly become a whole lot clearer and better informed.