Today’s hyperconnected customers no longer distinguish between online and offline experiences. They want to be able to choose, as the mood takes them, from the numerous channels offered by a particular brand (apps, websites, shops etc.). Although companies have understood this trend, a recent study shows that many of them are still struggling to roll out a genuine omnichannel strategy.
All companies are affected by this challenge, regardless of their size, business sector or relevant market. It is no longer good enough to provide the customer with a website on the one hand and a shop on the other that may offer potentially contradictory or even incompatible information, prices or customer experiences. Implementing a successful omnichannel strategy, succeeding in building customer loyalty, requires a profound transformation across the whole organisation.
Companies need to transform themselves, both culturally and linguistically, by running awareness programmes and training their teams, to encourage the whole organisation to think and act as one. This phase includes restructuring the organisation, so that it is no longer based on independent divisions (silos), but is instead coordinated with the aim of synergising competencies to provide a seamless customer-centred experience.
The omnichannel approach also needs to address another major challenge, reconstructing the customer journey as the interaction path – from the customer’s point of view – between the brand, the point of sale and the customer. To offer customers the personalised experience they expect, companies need to build an engagement programme based on a harmonious blend of tools and ad hoc content. This objective will be more easily achieved by analysing and exploiting data on customer behaviour, observed by monitoring customers in physical and digital locations before, during and after they make their purchase.
Our study shows that the majority of companies are currently far from achieving a genuinely integrated omnichannel approach conducive to strengthening customer loyalty. They continue to propose separate online and offline actions, more or less focused on communication or sales depending on the respective roles of virtual and physical channels in their strategy. In the end, this leads to a non-linear, deceptive customer experience that is likely to push the customer to look for a better experience… elsewhere.
Professor of marketing, my research interests focus on channel relationships both BtoB and BtoC. Within this domain, I investigate several specific topics such as channel design, category management, trade marketing, private labels and retail branding, retail loyalty programs and others. My teaching experience is rooted on retail/store management and channel design and management.