So, how did it go? Now that we’re getting through January, for sure you have already done your 2016 Holiday Sales review. So, how did it go? If you are not happy, hard to believe, but we now only have about 8 calendar months to implement change. Can we do all that needs to be done in time, this time?
The key question for most brands and stores has become incredibly apparent-
Where did my customer shop?
Did I have a brand presence there?
Was my customer’s experience consistent?
In Other Words
ARE YOU UNIFIED???
Unified Commerce. It’s not just Omni-Channel.
What does UNIFIED mean exactly? It means that presence or performance is no longer about where one can buy a product or find their retailer. As marketers, we call each of these a channel. Do you know what your customer calls it? NOTHING. Sorry to be so blunt. That’s right, they refer to it as nothing. Why? Because our customers really don’t care what a channel is. They only care about where they are and if they can easily purchase something. We also need less emphasis and planning around “channel optimization”, “tracking” the target consumer, or “omni-channel” anymore, too. Technically these efforts will remain, but it is really all about the right marketing mind set and goals. Its time to truly begin to understand and implement brand transaction strategies from the consumers’ viewpoint.
Unified Commerce. It’s Technology and It’s Your Consumers’ Brand Experience.
It is about a product or a brand transaction being seamlessly and instantly present across every platform.
Why Omni-Channel is Not The Same as UNIFIED
Here is a perfect true life example of my experience with an exclusive department store- This retailer is definitely Omni-Channel but definitely not Unified. When I fly into this city, I always look forward to shopping at this amazing destination. When I purchase something that won’t fit my carry-on, I have to ship it back. The brick and mortar purchase process will not allow it to be shipped to my PO Box. So, the sales associate has to physically release the order at the exact right time so that it meets me at my house upon return from my trip and not sit on my front porch while I am away. Then, I have to worry about my purchase sitting at the retailer for sometimes a week or more, depending on how long I am away. But, when I order online from this store, they will ship my package anywhere- including my PO Box.
Most surprising to me was when I needed some extra help buying some incredible just-had-to-have runway earrings and I wanted a couple different pair to collect all at once.
I called the store long distance and during this experience, I was able to order these pricey earrings from the sales associate literally via texting but, get this- they were not available for order via their website.
So, time has come where the point of sale is no longer just about technology capability, channels or physical location of the purchase.
THE NEW POINT OF SALE IS THE CONSUMER THEMSELVES
Unified commerce means that no matter where or when a consumer decides to buy, they can seamlessly, readily and easily transact their purchase AND to them, the transaction feels, looks and acts the same. The consumer experiences little differences in their transaction options and brand interaction. Also anyone in the organization that may be assisting in the transaction has the same information access and in real time.
Time flies. Our consumer continues to expect more unity in their experience. Can you be totally ready by the next holiday season? Can you get Unified?
Christine C. Oddo is the author of The Christine Report blog and founder of Madison Luxe Group; a beauty and luxury retail sales, product development, brand curation and digital strategy agency.
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