LONDON: In their pursuit of omnichannel strategies, retailers have been sidetracked down a blind alley, according to a leading industry figure who maintains that their focus should instead be on Total Retail.
Writing in Admap, Matthew Tod of consultancy PwC argued that a multichannel approach had resulted in retailers concentrating on the logistics of the delivery mechanism, such as building a web presence and ensuring the same products are available online and in-store.
"In other words," he said, "it concentrated on the channel at the exclusion of almost everything else." But customers generally don't care how they buy, being more concerned about what they're buying, who they buying it from and the price they're paying.
Tod suggested that retailers needed to escape from their 'multi' mindset and instead embrace the unified approach of Total Retail – putting a strong central brand and a consistent customer experience at the heart of the business and then supporting it with a genuinely integrated back office.
"From there, everything else follows, from people, to processes, to technology," Tod stated.
Making the business about the consumer first and foremost meant rethinking business structures, which are often designed for the convenience of the company and not the customer. But it would also free retailers from the need they feel to analyse sales by channel. "It's both enormously complicated and ultimately pointless to try to work out which element of that [purchase] journey should take credit for the final purchase," said Tod.
He highlighted four key factors that marketers would need to consider, including the development of a powerful and persuasive story to bring a brand to life while exploiting the different strengths of different channels, and the creation of genuinely valuable and useful content to help people in their buying decisions.
Further, they should use the power of big data and technology to shift their advertising "from scattergun to pinpoint accuracy ... specific people, with specific messages at specific places and times".
Similarly, "make the most of SEO and shopping channels", Tod urged, to target consumers actively looking to buy.
He described the move to a Total Retail model as "probably the biggest shift we've seen in the sector since the advent of Category Management in the mid-1990s". But the speed of change in today's digital age meant that retailers had to act quickly or get left behind.
Data sourced from Admap