Spotlight on omnichannel experience, Part 2

Aug 11, 2023
CX Thought Leadership

This is the second blog in a multi-part series presented by the CMA CX Council. Three CX leaders share their perspectives about omnichannel marketing initiatives. Read Part 1.

Meet Geoff Day

Geoff Day is a strategic, analytical and results-oriented marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience in telecommunications, media, energy and retail. Geoff uses a unique blend of business acumen and advanced understanding of research and analytics to formulate business insights and customer experience design as well as execute business strategies. As the National Director of Loyalty Marketing at Sobeys Inc., Geoff has recently played a leading role in the launch of the Scene+ loyalty program across Sobeys Inc. brands, businesses and formats from coast to coast.    

Q&A on omnichannel perspectives

What does omnichannel mean to you?

Omnichannel is the ability to truly understand all aspects of your customers’ journey with your brand, knowing the points of friction and the moments that matter to them, and then optimizing your knowledge of the customer to seamlessly deliver the products, services and support that matter most to them in the manner they expect. Omnichannel goes beyond the traditional definition of selling products or services and extends into personalized content, customized service and tailored experiences.

What is a good example of omnichannel?

Leading pharmacy chain, CVS, has done a really nice job of focusing on omnichannel as a fundamental element of their business. CVS has focused on enhancing omnichannel health services to meet the needs of its customers when and where they want them, both in-person and virtually. They have adopted a “digital-first, technology-forward approach” intended to expand their reach and engagement with customers. Their approach extends beyond personalization of content and digital engagement for online customers. Their focus on meeting customers where they are, and tailoring experiences goes beyond the online world and extends into their store network. The organization is going so far as to significantly change their store footprint in support of their strategy – away from the “tried and true” pharmacy-first approach, to more of a hybrid model with sites dedicated to offering primary care services, enhanced HealthHUB locations, and traditional CVS Pharmacy stores. They truly believe in, and are orienting their operations to, offer their customers the right stores in the right locations to meet understood customer needs. 

How are metrics and KPIs changing due to omnichannel programs being introduced?

As a leading grocery retailer in Canada, I find that Sobeys is evolving the ways that we evaluate the loyalty and engagement of our customers to our formats and brands. We have traditionally focused on a siloed brand view of a standard “Recency, Frequency and Value” segmentation model for our offline customers to identify and tailor experiences and offers. Recently, we have focused on a more holistic, predictive view of customer lifetime value. This approach is less common to transactional retail and more similar to the approach that you would typically see from a subscription model of customer management, as typically done in telecommunications or financial services. 

There are obviously many different metrics that can be used to measure omnichannel performance, but there are three types of metrics that resonate as being most important to me: 

  1. Customer lifetime value or predicted lifetime value, as discussed above.
  2. Advocacy: Having regular and ongoing measurement of customer satisfaction across all channels and experiences. The experiential measurement of satisfaction needs to extend beyond the shopping and buying experience and be inclusive of all the moments that matter to your customers. 
  3. Conversion rates: How effectively a business can convert its customers to purchase products and services across banners and formats as well as in both offline and online channels. Conversion rates do not have to be dedicated to strict sales generation measurements, but can also be used to measure brand and content conversion and engagement.          

What are some good examples of offline platforms supporting online adoption and vice versa? 

Not that long ago, one of the great fears among retailers was that of “showrooming” in which customers would visit their local physical store to touch and feel a desired product, and then purchase that item online at a lower price. Home Depot saw the opportunity that this trend presented and introduced the “endless aisle” to take advantage of it. Home Depot understood the mind state of many of their “do it yourself” customers, who often required assistance from a knowledgeable associate before choosing the products and services that they needed for their next project or renovation. This was the perfect environment for an offline/online integration approach, by capitalizing on customers and their growing dependence on their mobile phones. 

Home Depot developed an app that allows customers to easily locate the products they’re looking for in stores, read customer reviews and purchase items that may or may not be available on the shelves. This example of an “endless aisle” provides customers the best of both worlds – the ability to get customized expert advice, shop the range of products available in-store, but also access more products online. Home Depot is continuing to evolve its offline/online integration model, finding points of friction in the buying journey of its customers and using advanced technologies to alleviate them. These two worlds are merging, and consumers will continue to embrace evolved ways of shopping, so you must focus on the customer and how to improve their holistic shopping and buying experience. 

What is a lesson you would share with marketers embarking on a new omnichannel program?

As marketers, we sometimes get too focused on the latest customer management technology and forget to focus on the basics: understanding the experiences and moments that matter with our products and services, reorienting the types of experiences that we would want them to have with our brand, and utilizing technology combined with our transactional and engagement data to craft frictionless experiences that make their interactions with our brands simpler and more rewarding. We need to have a solutions-oriented mindset, find ways that we can improve each interaction they have with our brands and channels, and demonstrate smart solutions for everyday challenges. The age-old guidance of focusing on your customers, testing and learning, and measuring what matters using a balanced scorecard is never bad advice.

What are some of the key differences between multi-channel and omnichannel?

There are many differences that exist between multi-channel and omnichannel, and both can be successful with regards to engaging with customers. 

A multi-channel approach expands an organization’s reach by ensuring that products and services are available across a variety of platforms to meet the needs of diverse customers. This allows targeting of different customer segments and maximizes holistic presence, even if these platforms are not fully integrated. The multi-channel model helps businesses increase their market presence and cater to a wider range of customer needs by offering customers multiple ways to interact with them.

An omnichannel approach is similar, but a little more evolved. It is inherently more consumer-centric, as the goal is to deliver a seamless shopping and personalized CX across both sales and service channels. It is more of a tailored experience, designed to meet customers where they are, and using holistic customer understanding to tailor content, offers and services that meet their understood needs. It is about removing the boundaries and barriers between sales, marketing and service channels to create a unified, integrated view of the customer.

What are some lessons for organizations starting new in their omnichannel journey versus those with legacy?

When designing an omnichannel approach, you must start with a solid customer understanding. You need to know about all aspects of your customers – what products and services they prefer, what the motivating factors are behind their purchase, what elements cause them to choose you over your competition, and what elements impact brand loyalty over time. 

It's also important to ensure that all customer data – whether transactional, financial or behavioural – is centrally housed and readily available throughout your technology stack. Dynamic client data is essential to providing insights into your customer journey, allowing you to adapt your operations to be more flexible in automated product optimization, up-to-date inventory, and accurate product information. It makes it easy to put the client at the center of everything your business does.

Finally, you need to recognize that omnichannel execution is a journey, not a destination. Your organization will need to implement a continual test and learn mindset, which means adopting an approach to advancing technologies, competitive pressures and changing consumer expectations. It will not be an easy path, but certainly can be a rewarding one.

How can organizations mentor and develop talent for omnichannel?

You need decision makers within your organization that holistically understand your business and its customers. Businesses are complex and you need individuals that are tenured and have worked in different parts of the organization so they can think with a well-rounded perspective. 

I spent most of my career in various marketing roles before Sobeys. Shortly after I joined the Sobeys organization, I was asked to spend some time leading the business intelligence team within the merchandising function. At first, I was overwhelmed by my new environment, but over time it truly helped me to understand our business at a much deeper level. When I returned to marketing in my current loyalty role, this learning allowed me to make decisions and design experiences that are better for our customers and our organization. Experiencing different functional areas in an organization allows employees to meet customer needs in a way that is optimal for your business. 

In today’s world, most people want to be challenged – they want to learn new things and gain a deeper understanding of their organization. Allowing individuals within your organization to move throughout different functional areas is a great way to meet these needs and motivate your people to be their best each and every day.

Read Part 3

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Geoff Day

Director, Loyalty Marketing | Sobeys Inc.




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