WhichPLM has opened up our ‘News’ section for the next two weeks in order to gain insight into NRF’s Big Show, from those companies that were lucky enough to attend. Kurt Salmon kicks off the series with their thoughts.
With few retailers able to offer a truly seamless omnichannel experience, NRF delegates were keen to hear about the challenges and solutions from their peers. In a session on optimising omnichannel, moderated by Tom Cole, Kurt Salmon partner, top retailers Macy’s, Lowe’s and The Limited provided insight.
Setting the scene, Cole explained that the main reasons why most businesses are struggling to provide a seamless experience for their customer is that it requires “everything from their IT infrastructure, to the way they set up their sales staff to be expressly designed to meet customers’ increased wants, needs and expectations”.
As such it was not surprising that changing how the supply chain is structured and taking on board the speed with which new technology, particularly mobile related, gets adopted, were among the issues discussed.
R B Harrison, Chief Omnichannel Officer, Macy’s, said his business continues to be surprised by the pace of customer adoption.
“Everything that we do, what we think mobile’s going to be, we’ve been off (schedule). We thought we stretched it, and it hasn’t been enough. Mobile is clearly the driving force and, from our perspective, it is how we blend mobile into the in-store experience to provide something an online-only vendor cannot”. He also pointed out that the business had to operate with “one head set” and co ordinate tactics to support both online and in-store shopping, which is requiring the business to change the way it looks at its stock.
Connectivity was also a theme picked up by Brant Kirby, chief omnichannel officer, Lowe’s.
“We look at omnichannel across every touch: how do we make that meaningful, how do we make that connected, as well as our marketing efforts and our buying efforts as we give customers feedback actively.”
The importance of knowing your customer and personalisation were elements highlighted by Diane Ellis, chief executive officer, The Limited.
“We see omnichannel as a tactic, not necessarily a strategy. It’s part of what we like to refer to as our client-first strategy. We tailor all our experiences to the needs of our specific target clients. We have a laser focus on who our target client is. Providing that seamless transaction, or seamless engagement, is only one part of our broader strategy to make sure we are tailoring every aspect–our assortments, our in-store experience, our marketing, our social engagement–to the specific needs, that very clear lens, of that very tight, target client. It’s part of a bigger strategy to build that relationship.
The importance of this 1:1 retailing is something that Kurt Salmon believes is now resonating more strongly with retailers. Kurt Salmon utilised a mini 1:1 retailing lab at the show to demonstrate new technology to help retailers strengthen their engagement with customers.
Cole also identified the following five business areas that retailers need to address to deliver excellence:
Customer experience, organisational structure, technology innovations, processes and, “probably the most neglected so far”, senior level engagement.
“Leaders must engage and enable sales associates to facilitate an authentic omnichannel experience to customers,” he concluded.