Taking an Integrated Multi-Channel Approach

Many businesses are trying to focus their efforts on providing a multi-channel offering to their customers but how many actually deliver? This may not be the fault of the retailers themselves but more the technology, people and processes they have aligned the business with.

2010 was a crucial year for retailers in terms of how they delivered their multi-channel experience to their customers. More and more people are beginning to talk about providing a cross channel experience for their customers, whereby customers receive the same shopping experience regardless of the channel they have chosen to shop via.

A recent survey by analysts Ovum serves to support this, claiming that businesses should look at exploiting as many sales channels as possible. Ovum also suggests that retailers who have not yet fully embraced the internet or mobile as a sales channel should do so this year as it will provide the only real opportunity for growth.

But retailers should not focus on the internet alone. By delivering a consistent approach across all channels, customers should always have a truly great cross channel experience which will ensure them returning time and again. To achieve this it’s a must that retailers take a look at the technology available.

Peak performance

One way of improving your performance is by bringing a number of services under the roof of one partner to allow your organisation to perform at its optimum.

Retailers trading across multiple channels should look to work with a partner who can provide them will the necessary technology and expert advice to give them comprehensive control over multi-channel sales, CRM, catalogue management, promotions, procurement, fulfilment, warehousing and customer service.

This will allow companies to market, sell and deliver products and services to customers via retail outlets, the web, catalogue and mail order, telesales, trade counter and field sales effectively.

The use of Multivariate testing is currently an area of high growth in internet marketing as it helps website owners ensure that they are getting the most from the visitors arriving at their site. Ultimately multivariate testing helps to turn more visitors to customers and helps to increase average order value. It can also be used on mobile devices and call centres, for example, it could test whether a call taken nationally or internally ultimately affects the conversion rate.

By bringing all of this technology and expertise under the one roof it allows for a business to be more efficient. If a retailer uses a variety of partners then there is opportunity for projects to be delayed as one party blames another for delays in work being completed. Retailers can ill afford for time to be wasted on projects so if all work is completed by a single organisation then getting tasks completed will be much simpler.

Businesses should also look for a partner with a wide skill set. Although organisations may claim to be able to meet your demands, deeper investigation into their experience can save you headaches in the long run. Although cutting edge technology is important to the success of a business, it’s important that they have the creative skills to match to ensure that a company can get the most from the technology deployed. For example, if a retailer creates a display for their shop they may want to recreate this design across their entire brand from online and catalogue through to in-store kiosks and mobile devices. If you work with a partner who delivers all of this along with the technical expertise then you will have a fully integrated approach across your organisation.

There are also other ways that working with a single partner can help your business. The data that is created from customer sales will be able to be analysed far quicker if all the information comes through one system, so customer offers can be created seamlessly and quickly. There is also no reason why when a customer enters a store that a retailer should be able to identify that customer and how valuable they are to a business. VIP customers could be identified through a membership scheme so staff are alerted at the POS so they can be offered the best deals to incentivise purchases. Businesses should work with a partner to continually improve and further develop customer relations.

Of course, working with a single partner by delivering a complete and integrated multi-channel solution also offers cost benefits. With financial directors looking to save costs while delivering fast ROI on projects, a single partner with expertise across a range of areas can be invaluable. Also, quality data in the hands of operations directors and area managers can help businesses plan and prepare in confidence.

By aligning your technology and working with a single partner who understands your market and your overall goals will go someway in ensuring that your business flourishes at a truly critical time.

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By 2018, 42.4% of world’s population will be plugged into the internet, with around 3.6 bn people able to access it at least once a month.