Silos belong on farms: One brand, multiple channels

For years retailers have been saying that multi-channel customers are their best customers, citing that customers who shop across physical stores, e-commerce and catalog channels spend 3 or 4 times that of single-channel customers.

At the recent Summit, numerous speakers made this observation as if it were news.  Please.  We talked about this publicly when I was at Sears in 2003.  We shared similar data with analysts around the time I joined Neiman Marcus in 2004. JC Penney has regularly included this in investor presentations for years.

In reality, much of this happened not because of any specific cross-channel customer growth strategies these companies employed.  It happened because their best existing brick and mortar clients were among the first to migrate to e-commerce.  It happened because the internet is often a demonstrably better channel to facilitate transactions.  It happened because some of these brands already had catalog customers they transitioned to e-commerce.

I can tell you from first hand experience that until fairly recently–and it’s still open to debate–both Sears and Neiman Marcus were retailers operating in multiple channels, not integrated, one face to the customer, multi-channel retailers.

It can be so much better.

It gets better when you adopt customer-centricity and shun channel-centricity. Silos belong on farms.

It gets better when you realize customers care about your brand, not how you happen to be organized or how you happen to compensate your leadership.

If you don’t have your customer data in a single repository to be analyzed to create more relevant and differentiated experiences for your customers, get started.

If you don’t have a gate-keeper who manages the content, tone and diet of branded communications across your various media channels, what are you waiting for?

If you don’t have metrics and incentives that are tied to driving specific customer behaviors within and across channels, get to work.

And in the meantime, don’t take credit for stuff you didn’t do.




Author: stevenpdennis

Steven Dennis is a trusted advisor and thought-leader on customer-centric strategic growth and innovation. As President of SageBerry Consulting, he applies his C-level executive experience to drive growth and marketing strategy for multi-channel retail, e-commerce and luxury industry clients. He shares his ideas and wisdom regularly in the press, as an industry speaker and through his popular blog "Zen and the Art & Science of Customer-Centricity"( Prior to founding SageBerry, Steven was Senior Vice President of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group. As a member of the Executive Committee he drove the company's major growth initiatives, multi-channel marketing programs and customer insight agenda. Before joining Neiman Marcus, Steven held leadership positions with Sears, including Acting Chief Strategy Officer, Lands' End acquisition integration team leader, Vice President-Multichannel Integration and General Manager-Commercial Sales. Earlier in his career he was with NutraSweet and the global management strategy consulting firm, Booz & Co. Steven received his MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BA from Tufts University. In addition to his consulting work, Steven is an executive-in-residence at the JC Penney Center for Retail Excellence at SMU’s Cox School of Business, President of the DFW Retail Executives Association and serves on the Advisory Boards of Invodo Inc. and Nectar Online Media. He is also active in the social innovation and education reform arena as a Partner and member of the Board of Directors of Dallas Social Venture Partners. He is currently co-leader of DSVP's investment and engagement with SMU's Center on Communities and Education "School Zone" initiative in West Dallas.

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