April 06, 2014

Monday Mailbag

As always, you can email your questions (kevinh@minethatdata.com) or sent them via Twitter (@minethatdata) ... the latter seems to be the most popular method.

Today's question comes from Colton:

  • "You probably read that Neiman Marcus is integrating their online and store teams. Do you agree that this is likely to result in a favorable omnichannel outcome?"
My answer - no.

Asking store and online employees to work together is like asking in-laws to spend all their time together, not just at Easter.

I created this thing two years ago, and for good reason ... our industry loves to focus on mechanical, tactical topics. "If we simply aligned stores and online channels, we could be more effective and please our customers."


The issue, of course, is that people simply don't get along. We're only human, of flesh and blood we're made, to quote a song from the 80s.

Humans disagree. Sometimes they despise each other. Or they love each other and support ideas for each other that are meaningless to the customer. People hold grudges. They dig their heels in on principle. They don't like it that the online exec gets paid more and is responsible for 1/6th of the sales volume. They don't like it that the store exec gets a car allowance and doesn't have to be on call at 2:45am when the website goes down. Neither exec likes it that the IT executive always tells them "no". Merchants hate everybody for not working hard enough to sell merchandise. Everybody else hates merchants for being arrogant. Nobody wants to partner with the marketer who wants to spend $11,000,000 creating awareness.

Does any of that resonate with you?

Org structures can be a lot like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. Org structures do not address the core issues among employees.

The best "managers" know this. They create circumstances that foster team chemistry. 

It makes no difference how you structure online and store employees. It makes all the difference how gifted managers get people to get along and support each other.

This is what we need to talk about ... people ... not channels.