An open letter to retailers from a Millennial: Fix your omnichannel!
Jeff Arps, Sr. Business Development Manager, WD Partners
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from WayfinD, a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from the retail and foodservice experts at WD Partners.
One recent morning, I ambitiously grabbed my phone to check out Instagram. Seeing that one of my favorite retailers posted that a jacket I had my eye on was going on sale for a limited time, I double-checked my e-mail and, sure enough, a bold “30% Off!” appeared. Finally! That jacket had the price tag that I had been waiting for.
Checking the website, I headed to the closest store that had my size. I walked through the store, unorganized merchandise creating no easy path to the outerwear section. Miraculously finding an associate, I asked where I could find the jacket I was looking for. The frazzled associate said, “Hold on.” She then walked to the back and returned through the swinging doors empty handed. “We ran out of that jacket yesterday. It’s really popular. You can go online and they’ll send it to your house, though. You’ll just have to pay for shipping.”
Are you kidding me?!
Being in the industry, I may be hypersensitive to how “omnichannel” should work. But I also know that good, consistent omnichannel strategy and execution is possible.
Brands like Nike, Adidas, Starbucks and REI are realizing that, instead of just omnichannel, they need to act as one consistent channel in order to provide the consumer what they are looking for. If there are any inconsistencies across store, website, Instagram, etc., consumers notice.
How are these realizations and revelations happening? Executives are actually talking to each other outside of the quarterly board meetings. E-commerce, operations, design, web, social and marketing teams are getting together regularly to discuss goals and initiatives they can combine efforts on. Companies are allocating funds toward experience initiatives that involve multiple departments rather than splitting up everyone’s budgets to their own individual initiatives.
Oh, retail heavens rejoice!
As more and more brands adapt and departments continue to evolve outside of their own silos, I know that someday soon I will not have that empty feeling that I had when I left that unnamed retailer empty handed.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are departments working in silos the main hurdle preventing frictionless shopper journeys across different touchpoints? Does retail have particular characteristics that make silos harder to break down?