The four point plan to wowing customers in a multichannel world

16th Jul 2012

If retailers want to succeed in the modern multichannel digital world, they need to consider the following factors, says David Flower of Compuware Gomez.

The digital world is changing faster than the retail world can keep up with and permeates every aspect associated with traditional retail and ecommerce. The challenge for retailers (bricks n’ mortar and pureplay digital players alike) is to adjust to the developments in technology – developments which drive the way consumers interact with retailers’ brands in-store and online across multiple devices right up to the final point of sale.
If retailers want to succeed in this digital world they need to ensure the quality of their customer service across the entire service delivery chain is up to scratch, regardless of whether they are a pure play or traditional retailer, or a combination of the two.
Retailers must evaluate the service delivery chain (the path customers take towards a purchase) at each step and identify how they can optimise or improve it. This means evaluating technology, customer and non-customer facing applications and people, and identifying how every aspect across this chain comes together to deliver that final sale. This should also incorporate customer service in-store, online and across the multiple devices.
Any plan that is developed needs to consider the following factors:

1. Customer journey mapping

Mapping the entire customer engagement cycle is critical. How is your brand meant to develop deep relationships with customers without knowing how they react and perceive communications with them at various stages during the buying cycle? Tracking and monitoring this becomes vital. It will provide true insight about experiences and perceptions of your brand in an online and offline world.
From a technology perspective, this means identifying what technologies your customers have to engage with during their purchase cycle. Understand at which points you fail and succeed – and establish why? For example, how well does your website perform? What is its performance like compared with competitors? What is the industry standard and how does this compare with your customers’ expectations?

2. Coordinate your front office and back office systems

Recently Compuware released results of an international study looking at the impact of business and employee driven IT trends and models on retail. The CIO survey reveals how models such as cloud computing and SaaS, as well as trends like the consumerisation of IT, social media and mobility are exposing new blind spots in IT management. One of the key consequences highlighted by the survey is how an overwhelming 78% of retail sector CIOs worry that, as the consumerisation of IT gathers pace, it will lead to greater business risks.

To rectify this, brands need to ensure the systems responsible for holding their digital world together – front and back office systems – function without falling apart.

For example, it’s no good if a ‘front-end’ ecommerce system works if the stock management and post sale marketing and delivery systems fail (and vice versa).

3. Marrying instore and online worlds

Forging a positive seamless union between a brand’s bricks n’ mortar customer experience and its website’s experience is no easy task. However, it is not impossible to achieve, which is why customer engagement mapping and performance monitoring is critical. How can you marry instore and online worlds effectively without knowing the various engagement points with customers?
Once this has been defined, it becomes easy to establish how to develop your data management plan, your technology roadmap and how you will bring these worlds together in the most cohesive way that makes technology a true business enabler.

4. Learning from pureplay and bricks n’ mortars players

One drawback of the online world used to be that it was difficult for customers to physically engage with products in the same way they would in the real world. Although this will never actually be possible, images and rich media (video) have helped change the way we enquire about products online.
‘Click and collect’ is a further development to rich media that enables people to purchase the product online and collect it in store or view it in store – giving them a final opportunity decide whether the product is right for them before they buy.
Another development that can be noticed in some stores is the addition of kiosk-like technology to the shop floor. For example, in some retailers, if a person is browsing the shop floor and cannot locate their item, they can purchase it in-store, online via an onsite web application from a local computer or kiosk terminal. Which is another reason why it’s so important to ensure offline and online worlds are married up.


Retail has never been more exciting than right now. The current web infrastructure, “digital” and technology developments have revolutionised the way we trade and communicate. With the right customer engagement map, technology and performance management strategy in place it is easier than ever before for technology to play its part in contributing towards sales.

David Flower is VP EMEA at Compuware Gomez.

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