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Retail’s 6 Biggest Cross-Channel Challenges

Last update on Oct. 18, 2016.

Retail’s 6 Biggest Cross-Channel Challenges

Technology has had a tremendous impact evolving Retail businesses in every global sector to new heights. There are several points along the retail landscape that utilize system-specific solutions that produce various types of data.  These data silos, each fed by a piece of software built to solve a problem, give a view of something.  Stitching that data together to synthesize tangible information can leave you with very little time to run your business effectively.

While the pool of data that retailers are able to gather can be incredibly insightful and valuable, there are several consistent challenges that have plagued online retailers for the last several years.

There are 6 operational challenges - all of which begin with data and bottleneck in either not having the distilled information in one place or not having it in real-time.

Coordinating with other channels to create a seamless brand experience:

Today, customers interact with retailers through a variety of touch points and can communicate an enormous amount of data back to the retailer for use by everyone in the chain.  Communicating your company’s branding message because it is consistently shared across all channels is not enough.  Making sure that every employee has access to this data makes implementation and user experience easier to coordinate internally and to brand externally.

Optimizing inventory deployment across all channels:

Keeping cross-channel data siloed can devastate a company trying to keep inventory deployment at manageable levels.  Properly allocating this inventory can only be optimized if the data is aggregated from all paths, curated in a central location and distributed to teams across the company.

Understanding how different consumer segments engage with your brand:

Because there are many channels that a retailer must address, and each of these paths provides different positive experiences, it is no longer tolerable for a consumer to have a poor digital experience when interacting with your brand.  Understanding customer engagement from one channel to the next can be challenging, but not impossible when analyzing the data flowing through your eco-system.  Each click can teach you how the customer wants to be engaged.

Cost effective shipping and fulfillment:

While software can be used to help manage your inventory, allowing an online purchase while also providing an in-store return can create stocking inefficiencies.   Compound this across all of your sales channels and it becomes difficult to identify problems, fraud or suspicious return activity. Real-time consumption of multi-source data is critical in avoiding inventory overload.

Coordinating price and promotions with other departments:

Are online discounts eating into your physical store sales?  Are your online and physical prices aligned?  What about regionally and is this information going to everyone?  This type data coordination is critical to aiding brand loyalty and insuring that mobile, online, catalog and in-store information are being fed into the same place to properly maximize your efficiencies with customer satisfaction.

Have not yet defined what a differentiated online experience looks/feels like:

Knowing how your customer “feels” while using your site allows a retailer to better understand what is resonating or what is preventing a sale.  Every click, pause or zoom provides a glimpse into what friction may exist in growing your online business.  Know what works within each of your different channel experiences.

Giving data access to different teams along your digital eco-system allows them to know what IS working with your customer’s user experience and allow for a differentiated online experience.  Having access to data in real-tine empowers your team to be more efficient with inventory, price and promotional messaging.

This piece was written from content featured in the following article:  Total Retail, April 2015.


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