February 07, 2013

Omnichannel: A Response To The Mobile Threat

There's a great quote in the movie "Moneyball".  Billy Beane meets with John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox.  Mr. Henry says this (in the movie), when discussing Mr. Beane's new way of analyzing talent:
  • "I know you're taking it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall, he always gets bloody.  Always.  This is threatening, not just a way of doing business, but in their minds, it's threatening the game.  But really what it is threatening is their livelihoods, it is threatening their jobs.  It's threatening the way that they do things.  And every time that happens, whether it is in government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people who are holding the reigns, they have their hands on the switch, they go bat s**t crazy."
Ten years ago, this was "multichannel".  Catalogers and Retailers saw the threat posed by e-commerce.  They felt threatened.  E-commerce threatened their jobs.  So, they invented "multichannel".  By forcing e-commerce to be part of the catalog and/or retail ecosystem, they protected their jobs.  This wasn't done because it was right for the customer, for if it were right for the customer, catalogers would have crushed Amazon and eBay, and Borders / Barnes & Noble / Circuit City / CompUSA / Blockbuster would have crushed Amazon and Netflix.  No, this was done to protect jobs.

Today, the phrase is "omnichannel".  E-commerce brands and Retailers see the threat posed by mobile.  They feel threatened.  Mobile threatens their e-commerce and retail jobs.  So, they invented "omnichannel".  By forcing mobile to be part of the e-commerce and/or retail ecosystem, they protect their jobs.

Instead of forcing mobile to be part of an ecosystem (benefiting us), why not let mobile find a future for itself (benefiting the under 40 year old customer)?  While we work on diligently integrating mobile with the rest of the business, making sure pages look great on any device, making sure we track the customer all over the digital ecosystem, somebody age 18-34 will most assuredly invent the future that those who are currently age 18-34 desire.


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