April 13, 2008

Multichannel Challenges

Your response to "A Day In The Life Of A Multichannel Leader" indicates the parable is comparable to your own experiences.

On purpose, I didn't tell you the org structure of this brand. That piece of information doesn't really matter.

In many multichannel businesses, there are commonalities in the reporting structure. Listed below are a few gross over-generalizations:
  • Department Managers Report To Store Managers, Who Report To Regional Managers, Who Report To A Store Marketing Officer.
  • E-Mail Managers, Paid Search Managers, And Online Marketing Managers Report To An Online Marketing Director.
  • Catalog Acquisition Manager And Catalog Customer Retention Manager And Catalog Operations Manager Report To A Catalog Marketing Director.
  • Store Marketing Managers And Field Marketing Managers Report To A Traditional Media Marketing Director.
  • The Online Marketing Director, Catalog Marketing Director, And Traditional Media Marketing Director Report To The Chief Marketing Officer.
  • The Chief Marketing Officer And Store Officer Are Members Of The Executive Team.
  • The Executive Team Might Also Have An Online Officer, A Catalog Officer, A Chief Financial Officer, A Chief Human Resources Officer, And A Chief Merchandising Officer.
If the structure is similar to this, there are "practical positives" and "matrixed challenges". Multichannel pundits look at all the matrixed challenges (the e-commerce head wanting to do something different than the store officer), demanding that a non-silo-based structure eliminates these challenges.

Your challenge is to think about how you would structure an organization in a way that eliminates the challenges outlined in the "A Day In the Life Of A Multichannel Leader" post. It isn't easy, folks.

You don't easily stop the back-biting that happens when somebody makes a mistake executing an e-mail campaign.

You don't easily reconcile the challenges of excess inventory in the retail channel with the ease with which merchandise is cleared online with the fact that prices can stay fixed in a catalog for six months.

You don't easily reconcile the challenge of creating a landing page in a half hour online with the need to plan a catalog spread for three months prior to the in-home date with the challenge of flexibly managing floorset timing in retail.

You don't easily reconcile the holistic ideals of a Human Resources Leader with the cold, financial reality of a Chief Financial Officer.

Multichannel marketing is really hard to execute well, so much harder than just plopping in a "one view of inventory management" system, executing seamlessly integrated multichannel marketing campaigns, and creating a simple org chart realignment that gives some uber-leader control over everything.

Multichannel marketing is about getting a set of diverse individuals to work together in a professional, collaborative, and respectful manner. This challenge occurs any time more than one person is involved in a project, and seems to be one of the key reasons we were put on this planet. If you know of a company that does this well, let's arrange for a field trip to visit that company!