August 28, 2013


Look at the image ... sockeye salmon, about to go on the grill.

Notice that there's two different preparations. Some in the audience liked lemon, dill, salt, and pepper. Others in the audience liked butter and seasoning salt.

In the omnichannel world, we're told we have to do everything the same way - same merchandise in all channels at the same price with the same promotions. Every device must emulate the business the same way. Homogenize everything, and then, as the pundits say, "just be excellent".


But when it comes to food, we allow everybody to do their own thing, don't we?  McDonalds can offer a McRib sandwich in Topeka but not in Toledo, and nobody cares - not one omnichannel pundit goes sideways when a restaurant ignores the omnichannel playbook.

Every channel yields a unique merchandise preference. In other words, customers align with the channel that best serves their micro-niche preference.

There are two big problems I've observed at least a dozen times this summer.
  1. By making everything the same, catalogers / e-commerce businesses / retailers have failed to capitalize on the differences in channels, causing profit to just sit there for Amazon to grab (and then reinvest).
  2. By focusing on marketing channels, marketers have largely ignored the merchandise differences across customer segments. By ignoring merchandising issues, businesses are not managing the right mix of new/existing items and low/high priced items, causing problems in 2013 that were created back in 2011. Without a plan for 2015, we are putting the brakes on future growth.
We're ignoring differences in customer behavior. We're ignoring differences in merchandise alignment by customer segment / marketing channel. This costs us more profit than the theoretical profit opportunity offered by being omnichannel.