It’s that time of the year again. It’s time to assess everything you did for your multichannel business. It’s time define your goals for 2015 and to set strategic priorities. It’s also time to reflect on the past year’s successes and failures.
2015 can be the year you transform your business.
There’s an enormous opportunity out there for those businesses who are intentional about grabbing it. Here are some New Year’s resolutions to help get you there.
Rethink your multichannel strategy.
If you’re only taking advantage of one sales channel, it’s time to consider expanding to new ones. If you’re already a multichannel retailer, it’s time to take a pragmatic look at those channels.
Multichannel selling is critical, if you want to grow your business, but you have to be smart about it. Trying to be everywhere without analysis that shows your customers are everywhere is not “smart”. You can’t be everything to everyone. You must have the savvy to invest in the right channels and have the courage to disregard the wrong ones.
Be aggressive, but be smart.
Three Tips For Your Multichannel Strategy
There’s a lot that goes into developing a good multichannel strategy, but here are three tips for getting started:
- Know yourself. Understand your brand, what you do best, and how your customers perceive you. They expect you to be who you are with every interaction, whether in your store or on your website. Be intentional about your brand and your customer experience.
- Know your competition. What are they doing well? What are they doing not so well? You shouldn’t parody everything your biggest competitors are doing, but you can certainly learn from them. Every success they have is an opportunity for you to build on. Every one of their mistakes is an opportunity for you to fill a gap.
- Know your customer. You cannot create exceptional customer experiences if you don’t know your customer intimately. Where do they shop? What do they expect? What information do they seek before making purchases? Do the work to know the answers.
If your multichannel strategy doesn’t include the three points above, you need to rethink that strategy.
Refocus on being customer-obsessed.
Customer experience management isn’t just a catchy buzzword.
It’s not just providing a personalized experience. It’s not just being where your customer needs you to be, when they need you to be there. It’s not just stellar customer service.
It’s about all of those things. It’s about being completely obsessed with providing your customers the best experience possible, to the core of your business.
Customer experience management can be very tactical–do these things to improve CXM. But, before any tactics, it needs to be a strategic initiative. And, before being strategic it needs to burned into the culture of your company. And, before that it needs to the passion of you and your management team.
Obsession with customer experience is why companies like Zappos have disrupted long-standing industries. Make it a focus for you and your company, next year.
Invest in your success.
Retail can be pretty complicated. It can be full of tedious, error-prone processes. The littlest mistakes can ruin a business. The tiniest details can make the business a huge success. Often those mistakes and details are the direct result of technology decisions. You don’t want to leave those to chance.
It’s time to accept that investing in your technology platform is no longer an option. These are the things you should keep in mind:
- Invest in best-of-breed solutions. Platforms that claim they can “do it all” generally fall short in almost most categories. Opt to invest in a best-of-breed solution, whether you’re buying an eCommerce platform or an ERP or whatever.
- Invest in solutions that don’t burden your cash flow. Technology can be priced a million different ways. Make investments that require consistent payments that don’t make you “cash poor” at unexpected times.
- Invest in solutions that don’t penalize you for success. Beware technologies that charge you more money as you make more money. They chip away at whatever success you are able to create. That’s not a partnership. It’s exploitation.
- Invest in people. Whether you use contractors, hire full-time employees, or rely on services from your technology vendor, you need to make an effort to invest in the right people. You want people who share your passion for your business and for satisfying your customers. You want people who understand the challenges of multichannel retail. Don’t trust your business to just anyone.
I admit that this resolution is a bit self-serving, but it’s what I (and we at nChannel) believe. If you are serious about being successful you will need to invest in a technology platform that can get you there. There’s no way around that. Our job is to help you understand what that platform should look like.
Make learning a priority.
The retail world that moves fast. The only way to stay ahead of the game is to continue learning. Our content on Multichannel Insights is here to educate you about the trends, technologies, and ideas that you need to know. Subscribe to have this content delivered to your inbox every week.
But, we recognize that there are other valuable resources out there. Here are some others we recommend:
- Retail Dive has a modern approach to content, including starting many posts with three quick bullets with the critical information. You don’t have a lot of time throughout the day. This is a good resource for quick content digestion.
- Doug Stevens (the “Retail Prophet”) is an experienced consultant and retail futurist. He writes about and shares content about innovative retail ideas and his experiences working with brands big and small.
- Into podcasts? eCommerce Influence is a great podcast that provides useful advice for eCommerce entrepreneurs.
2014 has been a great year at nChannel and we hope it has been for you too. Here’s to an even better 2015!