Omnichannel is not revolutionary—and it’s no longer a nice-to-have. For consumer products companies, omnichannel is essential for delivering a seamless customer experience, responding quickly to market forces and freeing up teams to innovate. This approach requires digital transformation and a strong foundation of data that will allow organizations to brave future disruption.
Creating external-facing customer experiences is just the tip of the iceberg. The behind-the-scenes work is where the bulk of the effort lies. Designing the optimal customer journey -- from supply chain to the store, bridging the physical and digital shelf -- is one thing. But truly enabling the business to deliver and innovate at scale is another.
“Omnichannel at its core is about delivering tailored services to suit every customer regardless of where they are,” Andy Halliwell, senior director of retail strategy, said. "It’s about matching your customers’ needs with the capabilities and potential of each channel to deliver something that’s not just innovative, but truly fit-for-purpose.”
The omnichannel impact
Here are some examples of how omnichannel has improved customer experience as well as business performance:
Net Promotor Score (NPS)
The drive to elevate shopping experiences has been largely demand-led. Often, the gap in the market is customer satisfaction, or NPS. The “Amazon effect” has sent expectations soaring as a staggering nine out of 10 customers explicitly state they expect a retailer to provide seamless omnichannel experiences.
In action: When Bonobos added an extra step for customers in their shipping process, they measured the impact with NPS. When the company saw their NPS scores decline, indicating that the new step detracted from the experience, Bonobos was able to make the data-driven decision to roll back the change.
Internet Retailer found that organizations with strong omnichannel strategies have a retention rate of 89 percent, compared with 33 percent for those with weaker strategies. This is because omnichannel is key to collecting customer data.
In action: Nestlé did this by tapping into Tesco’s loyalty scheme, which tracked user behavior and interests both online and in-store. Nestlé then used that data to send targeted marketing via their app and integrated in-store electronic signage. The consistent personalized messaging across touchpoints reached 5.8 million customers and drove an 11 percent increase in sales.
Omnichannel is not just about consistency and availability, but about expanding brand footprint by connecting experiences online and in retail stores. According to Mulesoft, omnichannel customers spend 15 to 30 percent more than single or multichannel customers.
In action: IKEA leverages its online channels to inspire and inform customers while driving footfall in-stores where their brand affinity strengthens and basket sizes increase, contributing to IKEA’s reported $40 billion in revenue last year.
On the flip side of the balance sheet is cost. Although omnichannel can be a large investment, the synergies that occur between channels can cut costs in the long run. Strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5 percent year-over-year decrease in cost per contact.
In action: Walmart leverages their app to help consumers build grocery lists and manage their shopping cart from their mobile device, allowing for a seamless transition from online ordering to in-store pickup.
Automation and connectivity across channels results in greater operational efficiency. In the consumer products industry, hyper-convenience is key for customers. Leveraging data reduces errors and enables smart cross-channel solutions.
In action: Publicis Sapient worked with one British retailer to leverage product, customer, stock and contextual data to transform the return experience. By looking at customers’ behaviors, the trends in the products they’ve purchased and external factors such as time of year, we tailored the return process across channels to not only suit customers’ channel preferences, but to also reduce the rate of returns for the business.
4 ways to win at omnichannel
The value of omnichannel is clear, but how to effectively deliver it isn’t always as straightforward. Research shows that ninety percent of shoppers expect an omnichannel experience, but only 55 percent of companies actually execute it. Here are some steps consumer products companies can take to implement omnichannel and transform the customer journey:
1. Break down silos
Consumer products companies can’t expect customers to move easily between channels if the backend organization doesn't do the same. Implement the tools, processes and governance that facilitate the bringing together of expertise. Regardless of business unit, level or time zone, people should be able to contribute to the holistic experience. Carrefour, for example, completely transformed their organization, redefining how they worked to achieve agility at scale. Communications have also played a critical role in complex omnichannel workstreams, using collaborative tools that enable development, design, business and support teams to be in constant communication.
2. Create cross-functional product teams
A product-centric approach allows improvements in value, quality and speed-to-market by bringing together business, technology, design, marketing and other dedicated experts to focus on the value that can be extracted from a particular product. Organizing delivery into these teams brings efficient, innovative results that ultimately plays a key role in your omnichannel strategy.
3. Data as your main thread
Technology is the enabler when integrating channels, but most importantly, it helps aggregate data shared across platforms. Publicis Sapient's LEAD (light, ethical, accessible, “dataful”) framework assesses how dataful a customer experience is. Once all data is consolidated and cleansed, the right tools can be implemented to help share it across the entire organization, allowing different teams to leverage additional data to tailor omnichannel services.
4. Complementary, collaborative KPIs
It’s common for business units to have differing goals, but it’s when they conflict with each other that invites inefficiency. If marketing are vying for click-through rates and retail for footfall, solutions to execute could lead to investments that are counterproductive and confusing for customers. Instead, leverage each channels’ capabilities and implement overall experience KPIs through a value framework -- balanced score cards that can be attributed to the day-to-day delivery of cross-functional teams as well as at the board level. Once these KPIs are defined and aligned, the power of proper change management can be very successful. The intention is for everyone to understand how they contribute to one common goal.
Optimizing for omnichannel
Mobilizing your team to create impactful omnichannel experiences involves a vast internal transformation that will require time and expertise to implement. While user-centricity is key, don’t lose sight of your internal organization, as alignment is pivotal to truly achieving sustainable omnichannel success to increase revenue and innovation.