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.




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