August 04, 2010

Bricks 'n Clicks: Barnes & Noble

If all of the multichannel bricks 'n clicks strategy of the past decade was so prescient, then Barnes & Noble should have beaten Amazon and Wal-Mart and Apple into submission, right?

That didn't happen, and now B&N is for sale.

A generation of marketers were trained to believe that a theory was reality. I've been in meetings, too many to count, where the Executive shares all of the theories about why a bricks 'n clicks or a multichannel strategy that includes paper will trump new technology. The slides are shared, slides that suggest that customers want to do research online or via paper, and then get in a car and fight traffic for 17 minutes in order to complete the transaction, sales tax included. It's a theory supported with misleading data.

Always trust customer response over vendor/consultant theory. Most important, do your own Multichannel Forensics analysis, and teach yourself how your customers prefer to shop!

1 comment:

  1. Mark Matiszik7:56 AM

    Kevin,

    Great post as usual. One interesting point is that it was (and is) never just about offering a multichannel experience. It is about having every customer experience be personalized to at least some degree.

    The challenge is that not many companies have been willing to go through the hard work of storing their data at a customer level rather than a channel or merchandise level.

    It's great to have done the work to allow shopping online that can be picked up in stores, but that's only attractive to some customers.

    A better strategy would have been to spend the time and money during the last decade getting to know each customer on an building the capability to know as many customers as possible on an individual level. Then and only then should the focus shift to operationalizing a multichannel experience (and don't forget throughout this offering great product continues to trump everything else).

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