August 19, 2013

Macy's: America's #Omnichannel Store

Click here to read this ditty about Macy's, a brand who self-labels themselves as "America's Omnichannel Store".  Second quarter results were not good, with a comp store sales decrease.

Were we not told that omnichannel is the path to riches? 

Here's what is happening folks.  We've got two camps.
  1. Digitize Retail.
  2. Add Warmth To Online (read this story about Zappos, click here).
It's fascinating, isn't it?

I get emails and calls from the online camp - they want to know the "secrets" to offline marketing success - they want to know how to add warmth to a cold, sterile, search-centric shopping function that, by and large, has not been rescued by social media (and could quite possibly be obliterated by mobile in several years) - seeking to get the right offer in front of the right customer at the right time.

I get emails and calls from the retail side of the world - they want to know the "secrets" behind digitizing a business via big data - seeking to get the right offer in front of the right customer at the right time.

I don't think there's any such thing as omnichannel. It's a confection, dreamed up by trade journalists, researchers, bloggers and consultants to explain an overriding concept that is hard to grasp.

The concept?
  • Retailers want to digitize their experience, to enable them to keep doing what they love, which is, of course, in-store commerce.
  • Online folks want to create a much warmer and more social experience, to enable them to keep doing what they love, which is, of course, e-commerce.
In other words, omnichannel is real, but it is not a solution. It's a response to fear.  Both retailers and e-commerce businesses are fearful of mobile (my opinion - I could be 100% wrong).

We went through this 10-15 years ago with catalogers. Fear. It was everywhere. So the experts decided that being multichannel was the key. Everything you read today about omnichannel we read 10-15 years ago about multichannel.

How did multichannel work for catalogers?

How will omnichannel work for retailers or e-commerce folks?

I analyze a lot of data. The data shows that it is hard for older generations to permanently switch to new channels. This traps existing companies in the business model they've always enjoyed. The data also shows that younger customers spend time exploring, then adhere to newer channels. Today, that's a fusion of mobile/social.

Folks - omnichannel = fear. It's fear of what the future holds. It is a logical response, trying in some way to fuse the past to the future, so that we can continue working on the things we loved working on in the past.

If omnichannel was the answer, then Macy's would be outperforming everybody. Instead, they're struggling, again. And they'll fix their problems, again, but omnichannel won't be the solution. Merchandise, that will likely be the solution.

What do you think?