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[8 comments]

Measuring Your Omni-Channel Maturity Level

December 5, 2013

Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research's weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.

RSR recently introduced an online tool designed to help retailers determine where they are on the road to omni-channel maturity. It came from insights gleaned from responses to our Omni-channel Maturity Survey, which originated from a question put to us by a prominent specialty retailer: "What's the roadmap to become a leader in omni-channel?"

The model has six "dimensions" and the self-assessment tool measures for six levels of "maturity" for each dimension. The dimensions are:

  1. Customer: It's not about what you want to sell, it's what consumers want to buy, where, when, and how.
  2. Product: Not commodities, but solutions in the context of consumers' lifestyle needs.
  3. Inventory: The right inventory in the right place, in the right quantity, at the right price, available in the right way at the right time.
  4. Order/Fulfillment: Anytime, anywhere shopping.
  5. Locus: Harmonization of the digital world with the physical one.
  6. Technology: The right business rules and the right information delivered at the right moment to the decision maker.

Within the self-assessment tool, each dimension is given several "attributes" and the survey taker is asked to assess the company's level of proficiency for each. For example, these attributes are tested for the Customer dimension:

  1. Responsibility: Who owns the customer experience and how widely is "customer experience" defined internally?
  2. Collect Customer Data: How well does the organization collect customer data and ensure that such data is clean and useful?
  3. Maintain Customer Data: Who owns customer data and ensures that it is accurate over time and secure, and respects consumers' privacy?
  4. Develop Customer Insights: At what level are customer insights embedded into business processes across the retail enterprise?
  5. Engage With Customers: How well does the retailer present "one face" to the customer?
  6. Measurement: How well does the retailer measure success across all phases of customer engagement?
Discussion Questions:

How can retailers best assess their omni-channel maturity level? Can you think of retailers that would score well based on RSR's tool?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Which of the six dimensions in the RSR Omni-channel Maturity Survey is the most difficult to assess?

Comments:

As a general observation, if a retailer has the same workflows and is doing business the same way they did just 5 years ago, then their omni-channel maturity level would be infantile at best.

I believe retailers are aware of what their challenges are and what they would like to become, but simply don't know how to begin to implement a holistic solution. Understanding what it means to "be digital" is lost on most retailers. An important first step that all too often gets overlooked is identifying, capturing, curating and managing all brand assets. All of these assets are invaluable in brand storytelling and delivering a consistent, relevant and personalized experience to your customers in an omni-channel environment.

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Adrian Weidmann, Principal, StoreStream Metrics, LLC

To consumers, it's a question of a product being available in-store or online at the same price, being able to return a product purchased online to a store, and getting quick, accurate responses to their questions and problems.

For retailers, it means doing what is necessary to meet consumers' expectations.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

The main challenge of "omnichannel" (and a key element of what this survey communicates) is that it's not a single, specific function in the company. It's company-wide and touches each department. Everyone in the organization requires a common/cultural understanding of what that means and how their jobs contribute to it.

I like this survey and when answered and reviewed honestly, it gives retailers a perspective of where they currently stand along the ever-accelerating retail evolutionary curve. The next step needs to expose the deep corporate underpinnings required be a successful. (I'm somehow reminded of the apocryphal Yogi Berra line: "We're lost, but we're making good time.")

The main challenge for retailers is their need to [re]align themselves around the customer and not internal departments. Companies like Nordstrom and Amazon do this well and will thrive. Those who don't will lose ground.

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Todd Sherman, CMO, Point Inside

Retailers can benefit from leveraging tools like the one from RSR for assessing their current level of omnichannel maturity. Knowing where you are now is always a great starting point.

Also, taking the time to really look at what other retailers are doing with omnichannel (good and bad) is a critical part of the assessment process.

I think one of the significant issues today for many retailers is simply identifying who in the organization is responsible for omnichannel, and empowering them to effectively coordinate with the right team members from internal groups. Breaking down silos and getting everyone rowing in the same direction is a big hurdle. Many times this is not because of resistance, but just business with priorities and time constraints to work on "futures."

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Matt Schmitt, President & Chief Experience Officer, Reflect

Most retailers and CPG brands face a cross-channel reality and have omni-channel aspirations. Some retailers may choose to move straight to an omni-channel end-state while others will evolve through a series of cross-channel initiatives. The rate at which these aspirations become reality will be driven by technological path-dependence and by business value delivered from new cross-channel shopping behaviors.

A good way to assess omni-channel readiness is to look at aspects described in this article and leverage tools, like RSR's and other vendors to take the "gut feel" out of the decision process that drives the strategy.

Today, the consumer controls and shapes their individual shopping experience across channels. In-store shopping sets the bar for personal service and direct product experience. E-commerce raises expectations for competitive pricing, information availability, and expansive selection. By making browsers and 'apps' portable, mobile has made even the smallest slices of time into opportunities for brand interaction and, potentially, into "shoppable moments." Today's retailers face a constant battle for mind- and wallet-share, even when consumers are in their store, on their website, using their app ... or literally just waiting for a train (In South Korea, for example).

Cross-channel brand interaction has become a must-have capability for retailers. While technology must be put in place to support cross-channel shopping and the eventual omni-channel end-state, it matters only as an enabler of consumer interaction and participation in the shopping experience. Stores play a critical role as venues for product awareness, product research, and eventual purchase. Once maturity levels of omni-channel capabilities are defined, retailers will take very individual paths to enable cross-channel shopping and reach the omni-channel end-state, all successful paths will provide flexible, quickly deployable technology that reduces complexity and can be managed sustainably.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

This type of survey is an interesting exercise for the tactically focused retailer. The problem I am seeing is the number of retailers who are too fast to jump to the tactical before they have done the strategic.

Successful omnichannel retailers, like Macy's, didn't just jump in and start doing. They started at the top, took a fresh look at their customer and what their customers expectations were, then built a strategy.

It's nice to know where your maturity level is, but it seems most retailers don't even know where to start.

Lee Kent, Brings Retail Executives Together to Meet.Learn.Profit, RetailConnections

Kudos to RSR for trying to address what is not an easy task. I have spent a little time this morning getting familiar with it and will spend more time over the next several days/weeks.

While 36 questions, 6 sections with each section having 6 questions, seems fairly minimal to try and measure one's omni channel readiness, I think many companies might find this more complex than they are prepared to tackle so my only question is to ask is there anyway the survey could be simplified?

I don't have any specific suggestions right now due to my lack of familiarity with it, but my questioning stems from being aware of Net Promoter Score (NPS), Word of Mouth Index, and Carnegie Mellon's Capability Maturity Model.

Again, hats off to RSR for taking the big leap on this. They have initiated a great discussion that I am sure will be getting a great deal of attention over the next several years at the minimum.

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Bill Davis, Director, MB&G Consulting

Thinking back at past maturity models, I recall an important element that relates to learning from experience. Evolving the outcome, the customer experience, is in itself a process that can be measured from a maturity point-of-view. When you do anything involving the customer, it involves iteration and adaptation.

One of the great things Steve Job's learned from the movie business is the well known truth that films can and usually do go through major story re-writes even after much has been done. Finding the right thing at the lowest cost is a kind of maturity - not sure how that would fit - leadership? Governance?

Vahe Katros, Consultant, Plan B

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