We’re told we have to embrace all things omni-channel, yet Macy’s and Nordstrom, two of the acknowledged leaders in this arena, have yet to move the dial much on market share and profitability.
We’re told we have to digitally enable most dimensions of our business, yet Sears, which has been a pioneer in many aspects of e-commerce and digital innovation for more than a decade, looks to be in the midst of the world’s slowest liquidation sale.
The excellent and provocative work by L2 on companies “digital IQ” frequently ranks brands on the top end of the scale that are laggards on many key performance metrics.
Some will tell you that this proves that embracing a digital first strategy is over-rated or that investing heavily in omni-channel is a mistake. They are mostly wrong.
The error comes in confusing necessary with sufficient.
There are few brands, especially in retail, that can ignore an aggressive move into frictionless commerce. The customer experience must become more unified.
More and more, mass marketing strategies are dying and it’s becoming extraordinarily difficult to break through the clutter. Letting go of one-size-fits-all strategies in favor of creating more personalized programs is becoming increasingly important.
And we can’t keep interrupting customers with largely irrelevant messages at the wrong time and out of context. Deeper customer insight, coupled with an understanding that smartphones and tablets allow the customer to be untethered and addressable at the moment of need, puts a premium on marketing that is localized.
We are entering an era where a high level of competence in the above three principles is necessary just to stay in the game, to be even marginally relevant, to have a crack at the customer’s consideration.
You can be leading edge on all of these dimensions and it’s still not enough.
What we offer the customer needs to be amplified–that is, it must be truly unique, intensely relevant and remarkable in the purest sense of the word. This is where Sears falls incredibly short and where Macy’s struggles to break out from the sea of sameness that characterizes much of the department store world.
Unfortunately too many companies vaguely embrace all things digital and start gulping down the omni-channel Kool-Aid while ignoring this last critical piece.
At the end of the day, if the dust ever settles, they’ll have spent a ton of time and money on merely keeping pace and not enough on the things that ultimately matter.