Digital Headhunting in Omnichannel Retail | Hannington Tame
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A Digital Headhunter’s View of the BRC Omnichannel Conference 2016

It is always impressive to hear the thoughts of the successful leaders at the coal-face of the ever-changing world of digital in retail. Inevitably there is always some repetition about getting the basics right; influencing the board, breaking down inappropriate silos, the importance of clean data, incentivising staff on the shop floor and putting the customer at the centre of the organisation. But there are always new thoughts. Here are the ones I could pick out.

Touch points – the important point was made that it might be the right time to get away from the concept of multi-channel/omni-channel and instead concentrate on touch points. In other words, customers don’t think in terms of channels they just react to the multitude of different ways that they can now communicate with a retailer. I think this is a powerful concept that quickly encapsulates and explains the modern customer journey to people who have yet to grasp the customer centric organisations and behaviours that are required by the “digital world” (in other words doing business in 2016).
Service Culture vs Sales Culture Not appropriate to all retailers but again this is a neat way to encourage staff to think about what value they and in turn their business adds to a consumer’s life beyond just competing on price. Amazon is clearly the gold standard for availability and (on-line) delivery. How can you make your organisation provide a service that differentiates, delights and puts the human back into retail.
Conversational Commerce – There was much talk of Facebook Messenger and web chat in general as an increasingly powerful tool for engagement. In particular delegates seemed impressed by new developments like KLM’s fully automated bookings system. How can this new channel be used to increase your service culture and to up-sell?
Innovation – there seemed to be a much more realistic attitude to cutting edge developments in general. No-one doubted that there were many changes ahead but perhaps because there is enough change on everyone’s plate already and because people are realising that crystal ball gazing is a mug’s game. The other reason may be because many of the most sought after innovation is more about software than hardware.
Actionable data insight – delegates agreed that in the past the world of retail has been guilty of collecting data for the sake of collecting data. Data is only useful when it tells us what the customer does – obvious but not always an aphorism that is followed.
Single C/S View – Single Customer View this is still the holy grail of multi-channel and is still breaking down at the store/on-line interface. Listening to talk about Single Stock View makes me think that many companies have some way to achieving even this.
E-receipts – very popular, very powerful and yet to be fully exploited I feel.
Technology – focus on systems that will be key to innovation but move as many IT systems onto the cloud as possible. Teams need to be agile and “connected yet decoupled”.
Personalisation – if there was one unifying message and driving force it was how SCV combined with AI was driving personalisation. With possibly only a 3 second window of opportunity for a retailer to get it right on-line, companies needed to serve up the best personalised experience.

James Minter

James Minter is a partner at Hannington Tame, the digital CEO and C-Suite headhunting specialist.


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