A survivor's guide to omnichannel
By Jean Baptiste Gerberon - omnichannel expert
"Survival is 90% mental. " This is the kind of maxim you will often hear in courses run by the likes of adventurer Mike Horn and other survival training activities. Indeed, equipping yourself with the latest gear and gadgets, or developing an athlete's physique, will guarantee you no results if you do not have the mindset that prevents you from becoming paralysed by stress or fatigue. "But what does this have to do with digital technology?" you may ask yourself. The answer is simple: the recent Covid-19 crisis is putting companies through a fairly grim stress test and, for many, their survival will depend on digital technology and its ability to absorb shocks and continue to generate revenue.
Omnichannel transformation is now more necessary than ever for companies that have not yet made the leap. And, for those that have already begun, this situation could be compared to a rite of passage. As with any situation of sudden stress, the first thing to do is to take a five-minute breather to help you make the right decisions, and remember that all of the frantic digital activity should not make us lose sight of the basics and common sense.
Omnichannel requires a precise goal
Current events are once again demonstrating that both 100% physical and 100% digital present risks, since the lockdown will not last forever. It is, therefore, a good idea to strike the right balance between the two and achieve omnichannel efficiency. The first pitfall to avoid along the way: do not confuse multichannel, which involves adapting your message for all of the available channels, with omnichannel, which aims to create synergies through the complementarity of content conveyed through each channel, based on a common thread (such as enhancing the user experience, winning greater attention share or attracting the curiosity of your target audience).
How to overcome this challenge?
Take the time to carry out an initial self-assessment: What is your common thread? Is it clear for all the people involved?
The need to unite
Now that you have a clear aim and your field of view is unobstructed, it is time to apply another survival principle:
"Your chances are better together than alone."
You will of course have to convince the decision-making team. Bringing decision-makers on board is a prerequisite, not only to secure a budget, but also to ensure the people you need will be available throughout the process.
How to overcome this challenge?
Review the situation: Have you brought on board all of the teams involved?
So far, so good: you should be able to deploy a variety of complementary formats and create an outstanding omnichannel impact without too much trouble. Team spirit, buzz, creativity... All the ingredients are there. Congratulations! Now you can enjoy this first victory.
Omnichannel is a long-distance race
This is where another important rule comes in:
"Don't take your eye off the ball."
Keep track of the measurement of results of the transformation process. Has cohesion been maintained? Or has a single department taken responsibility for the task of gathering and interpreting data? This is where the danger lies… Ultimately, employees will rapidly tend to refer to the individual performance measurements that decide the amount of their quarterly or end-of-year bonuses.
"Omnichannel is all well and good, but my direct sales KPI is better when I aim for a 100% e-Business result…"
"I've already spent enough time on user experience; right now, store sales are what's bringing home the money."
This kind of reasoning will naturally lead your e-commerce colleagues to continue to track website traffic and direct online sales, while your colleagues in stores will focus on brick-and-mortar sales and store footfall.
How to overcome this challenge?
Plan meetings for synchronisation: are they sufficiently spread out over time to cover a long period? Beware of eye-catching results that only reflect omnichannel capacity in the short term. True omnichannel transformation is a long-term process. To stay on track, you can't beat a tried-and-tested tool: KPI monitoring.
Your survival kit: trusty old KPIs
KPIs are like a compass that prevents you from getting lost along the way. Choose the right ones by asking if the performance indicators you have set are:
Aligned with the transformation process?
- Your KPIs should be shared across all teams involved, in order to ensure they are all engaged and going in the same direction.
Acceptable for your CFO?
- This is to avoid results not being taken into account if they don't fit into any of the categories in your finance department's reporting charts.
- The benefits of certain actions may not be measurable or directly linked to additional sales (such as increased brand awareness or visibility); or they may only have an effect in the future after the end of the fiscal year (for example, an increase in customer loyalty if you have a long buying cycle). Because the aim of the game here is to unite, two options are open to you: find a way to quantify the results or choose another KPI.
Easy to gather?
- Does your BI have the technical capacity to provide the information you need? Maybe you will need to get several, previously independent tools to talk to each other to get the required information, which will most likely involve development work. Will data processing be needed and who will do it? Even if all of this is technically feasible, will the teams in charge be able to devote the required resources when they are needed?
ROPO² – the king of KPIs?
Lastly, if you are planning an omnichannel transformation, you have probably heard of the indicator ROPO² (Research Online, Purchase Offline, the squared symbol meaning that it works in both directions). So, is this the ultimate omnichannel KPI? As is often the case, the answer is not binary and this KPI has certain limits.
To begin with, forget the statistic "80% of people research online before buying", as this varies not only according to the sector (e.g. catering, services or consumer goods), but also the business model (e.g. consumer goods distributed through a network of brand-owned physical stores or via retail outlets).
You may therefore need to expect figures well below 80% and answer the question "why so few?". What this indicator does do is offer the huge advantage of putting a figure on an abstract concept. It deserves to be looked at on this merit alone!
How to calculate it?
Another difficulty is that there are several ways to calculate ROPO² and none of them are perfect. You will need to find one that works for you:
- Clearly define what it is you want to evaluate;
- List the resources at your disposal;
- Then, choose between incomplete measurements and forecasts, as you will need to accept a degree of approximation.
No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to account for 100% of interactions (due to the GDPR, private browsing, multiple device use, uneven distribution of interactions over time, and so on). You will therefore only be able to partially measure the impact of your investments in this area.
"In short, you should trust your survival instinct as much as your equipment."
So, what to do? As in a survival situation, "take a knee", use your common sense and see ROPO² not as a crystal ball, but for what it is: just an indicator.
Once you have defined your calculation method, monitor it consistently and without reading too much into it. In this way, it should hopefully help you observe improvement trends in your omnichannel performance. No more, no less: it is up to you to use it wisely.
So, in this jungle of new technologies and transformation, as in a hostile environment, getting back to basics will often put you on the path to survival!
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