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Think Experiences — Not Channels — to Connect with Customers

"You can't have your channels competing against one another … The goal is to get your organization as a whole to work toward overall revenue optimization, regardless of channel," says John Romney, global practice lead of Omnichannel at NTT DATA.

Marketers are talking "omnichannel" but are still stuck in fragmented silos with competing goals, metrics and compensation. Meanwhile, customers have increased their expectations of a buying journey with one integrated, cross-channel experience. For 2017, it will be life threatening if marketers do not embrace and deliver simultaneous all-channel customer engagement.

According to the "Driving Shopper Engagement through Digital Technology" study by Synchrony Financial, "Over half the population has researched a product, checked in at a retailer, tracked rewards points, or checked out while using a smartphone in the last three months alone." Other key points of this study:
  • Shoppers expect the digital experience to not only be present, but also proactive and seamless.
  • No longer just a tool for younger generations, the growth in smartphones has extended to everyone…. [There is] a dramatic rise in digital shopping, with almost 70% of the U.S. taking part in this now mainstream activity.

Additionally, in the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, it was noted, "85% of respondents indicated that unified commerce is their top priority." The report goes on to state, "As retailers navigate among this 'new' retail environment, they realize the need to not only allow, but also encourage, the transcending of channels and personalization of the customer's shopping experience…"

Apparel brand Perry Ellis put information from this POS/Customer Engagement study into action via a cloud-based technology solution, to create a "connected store" that uses digital tools within what it calls "a retail hub." "Our goal was to create a highly designed shop with functionality and a focus on technology incorporation," says Jennifer Stone Williams, vice president of retail services for Perry Ellis. The high tech retail space enables shoppers to discover the brand, have a personal moment, and engage with interactive, floating mirrors embedded with proximity sensors that offer product recommendations and styling suggestions.

Additionally, the company utilized iPads to free up sales associates to engage with consumers. "These mobile devices allowed the store associate to engage the customer anywhere in the store and throughout the transaction… [It] empower[s] the store associate to provide a much higher level of service to the customer and a more consultative sale," says Mark Colbert, director of retail systems at Perry Ellis International. Via the iPad, sales associates can help shoppers access product and price information, ratings and reviews, check inventory and fulfill out-of-stock orders by accessing cross-store and cross-channel data to locate and ship an item to the customer's door or sent as a gift.

Takeaways:
  1. Shoppers do not segment their journey into separate channels, they look at their experience as a united all-inclusive venture. Therefore, marketers need to realign procedures to deliver a new type of engagement that delivers simultaneous all channel integration.
  2. Rather than fighting the concept of "show rooming" (in which shoppers use mobile devices in store to gain product details and competitive information) marketers need to embrace this shopper practice and develop sales associate training and procedures that provide opportunities for actionable shopper help.
  3. Use of mobile technology is no longer a Millennial pursuit. Shoppers of all ages are now heavily engaged with mobile. In the "Driving Shopper Engagement through Digital Technology" study by Synchrony Financial it was noted, "The data shows that all retailers, no matter which generation they are targeting, need to embrace the growth of digital technology and its role in shoppers' everyday lives."

Providing a simultaneous all channel shopping experience is now mandatory to remain competitive and relevant. Marketers must keep developing new ways to innovate and deliver simultaneous all-channel customer engagement.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

DMA CEO Tom Benton Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Tom Benton is CEO of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). Since becoming CEO in 2014, Benton has led a three-year transformation and rebranding of the organization (formerly the Direct Marketing Association), with an organizational and resource alignment focused on advocacy, innovation, education, and connections.

The rebranding comes on the eve of DMA's 100th anniversary.

With an extensive career across a variety of data-driven marketing environments, including time as SVP of marketing analysis for AOL, Benton is steeped in industry knowledge.

He recently participated in the "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Two things: one, the rapidly increasing rate at which data is being generated, and, two, the rate at which disruptive technological capabilities are being developed that enable marketers to transform data into actionable insight.

With those capabilities come tremendous responsibility that all DMA marketers take very seriously. Marketing, like most things in life, is all about relationships—relationships with a purpose beyond profit. A responsible and successful marketer believes that what he or she brings to market fundamentally improves lives.

This fundamental marketing principle of relationships is not always understood or appreciated by all legislators and regulators—that marketers' actions are guided by that commitment to a mutually beneficial relationship over time. Many legislators and regulators feel that the use of data and data technology is invasive and should be significantly constrained.

Yet without data-driven insight, value to consumers is diminished. And without data science, innovation is suppressed. I continue to be surprised that many executives, even rising young executives in our industry, either are unaware of or choose to ignore the importance of strong data and marketing advocacy and government relations. Without those relationships, our ability to transform data into actionable customer insight and nurture lasting relationships with our customers is at high risk.

Several DMA members, many from major brands, are working with DMA's attorneys on Data Standards 2.0, an industrywide initiative to develop the standards that will govern the marketing industry's accountability in this new era of data-driven marketing. Despite our community's vigilant self-regulation efforts, our responsible use of data and innovative data technology is at risk. At any moment, with the stroke of a pen, a single state or a federal agency could suppress innovation and eliminate marketers' ability to responsibly access, exchange, and use data and data technology. DMA is the association that stands between marketers and that real risk.

The role of data in marketing has always been present, but it is more pronounced today. Data and data technology are the strategic center of marketing—identifying needs, informing design, creativity, channels, messaging, and more. These are just a few of the reasons that DMA rebranded.

2. Why is this so important?
Foremost, the data and marketing community's access to data and innovative data technology increases value to consumers. It makes consumers' lives more efficient and more convenient. Additionally, the data and marketing community drives our economy by increasing efficiency and adding hundreds of thousands of jobs, as reported in DMA's "Value of Data 2015" report". The data that fuels marketing enables a free internet with all its resources available to consumers.

3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The responsible use of data enables marketers to deliver higher value and more timely and relevant information to their customers, more seamlessly across their customers' devices. This empowers their customers to more efficiently and conveniently fulfill their needs and interests.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Today's successful data-driven marketing and technology not only benefits consumers, it funds more innovation, which, in turn, will benefit consumers in new ways. It's a virtuous, upward spiral all based on the fact that data-driven marketers continually strive to maximize efficiency and value for their customers and prospects. To fuel this upward spiral, DMA recently launched its Structured Innovation Program, where we bring together the entire marketing ecosystem of marketers, agencies, technology innovators, and data scientists to remove the barriers to innovation.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
It should be no surprise that, for me, it’s all about relationships. Making memories by spending quality time with my wife and two daughters, my friends, and my extended family is what I treasure most.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

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