March 21, 2013

Honest #Omnichannel Assessment From Internet Retailer

Give this little ditty from Jack Love at Internet Retailer a read.
Key Takeaways:
  • He cites growth rates, showing that e-commerce grows faster at pure plays than at retail brands.  I see this in my work, too.
  • Stock prices are tepid.
  • Comp store sales have to be lousy, and are then masked by e-commerce growth rates to report overall totals that sound impressive but truly aren't.  I see this in my work, too.
I've worked on more than 100 projects in the past six years.  When you force e-commerce (and now mobile/social) to be a slave to retail, you do get an omnichannel outcome.  And that's ok.  But you don't achieve the potential of e-commerce (and now mobile).

We need more people to speak the truth.  Just analyze the numbers, the proof is in the pudding.

And I know, most of you will think I'm wrong, here.  You'll quote something from Forrester or Gartner or, where 1,143 likely shoppers were surveyed and 43 executives were cited.  You'll show me how "everybody" is talking about omnichannel, so it has to be the right way for retailers to go.

You can help me.  Find non-survey research that shows how a business like Macy's, after subtracting the impact of merchandise strategy and marketing strategy, grew by 10% solely due to multichannel / omnichannel strategies.  Find this information, and I'll happily publish it here on this blog, and I will cite you as well.


  1. Kevin a few points:
    I remember a day when catalog/web businesses were called multi-channel. Now both multi and omni are being touted as store/digital relationships. I think both terms are a bit outdated and perhaps full of hype.

    In the IR article, Jack states that multi/omni shoppers spend more than their single channel counterpart. Well, that's because they are your most loyal customers. Take away the world of digital and I would bet they still would spend more than the average customer. This is data, not insight (I'm agreeing with Jack here)

    Multi/Omni integration does not need to turn digital into a slave to the physical store. Being integrated in all channels and devices is about creating a seamless experience. This experience can drive engagement and loyalty and have some impact on LTV, but it's not a replacement for good product, efficient operations, or a solid biz model.

    You point this out well in your other articles - it's about customers not channels. Understand your biz, define your customer, and maximize the channels/devices that best match with the customer. Even McDonalds offer differentiated items in different countries that are tailored to the customer.

    To me, omnichannel is an experience not a business model. This is why I think Amazon does omni well. They didn't just solely focus on their website in regards to my interaction with their brand. They created seamless hooks between devices, which created a great experience for me.

  2. Yup, lots of folks have lots of varying ideas on what omnichannel means. I don't really care, as long as somebody can support their hypothesis with facts that demonstrate sales increases independent of marketing and merchandising tactics. To date, omnichannel and multichannel advocates really struggle to do this.


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