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Omnichannel Fashion Retail, Reality or Fiction?

Customer Engagement




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Omnichannel Fashion Retail, Reality or Fiction?

Techedge | Jul 20, 2016

Fashion Retailers have been slow to adopt Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms.

Having worked in the CRM industry for many years I can state this as a fact.  The early adopters of CRM for B2C segments started with the evolution of the Loyalty card and were traditionally focused on Travel & Transportation and Grocery sectors, where frequency of purchase enabled insights that drove interesting business models for business owners and customers alike.

Omnichannel fashion retail: reality or fiction?
Things have changed. 

Driven principally by the realization of eCommerce sites, Fashion Retailers have finally recognized the value of customer data.  And, we are now in the midst of a fury of activity by Fashion Retailers to build up their CRM data.

It is becoming standard practice for Retail Assistants to collect mailing list data from their Clients at point of purchase, what they do with this data is still questionable and overall relatively under optimized.  And, this is really the focus of my blog.

Every day I must receive at least 10-15 emails from various Fashion Brands informing me of new collections, must-have items and the latest looks.  Because shopping is not my day job I am more and more frequently disregarding these mails, and after a couple of months of being subjected to bombardment I generally unsubscribe.  All that effort gone to waste.

It’s time to think a little more.  Digital is not about just email.  Digital is about Data.  And, Retailers need to think seriously about what that Data can enable in terms of better customer experiences, better planning and better relationships.  You can't improve customer engagement, building a brand identity & personal consumer relationship, by sending mass emails.

The problem is that everything is fragmented.  It’s very rare that the organization is ready to take a strategic view on Omnichannel and Digital Enablers.  In addition, although there is a plethora of technologies available in the Digital Retail sector few people are integrating technologies to leverage Digital and really create a holistic Customer experience, anywhere and across any channel.

Working together is fundamental for omnichannel Customer Engagement

Within the typical Fashion Retailer we see a few clear roles, some traditional and some less so. There is generally the eCommerce Director or sometimes known as Head of Digital but often Digital is limited to Digital Sales aka eCommerce.  Then there is the Sales Director generally in charge of the off-line revenues or shops whether owned or through a Channel.  And, generally they are working totally separately.  In addition we have the Digital Marketing or Communications team or Agency who are focused on driving Digital Engagement.  By engagement we mean: measured by marketing actions – like number of Tweets, Likes, Shares, Comments on Social Channels sometimes with some patchy off-line/on-line convergence around events.  And then we have the CRM team who are focused on sending emails out to everyone on a regular basis.

Only by thinking holistically and creating cross-channel processes and experiences can a Fashion Retailer really leverage the opportunities Digital provides.

How can we make this omnichannel experience happen?

To enable omnichannel fashion retail, we find Customer Journey Mapping an excellent tool to use in helping facilitate the dialogue between different lines of business around a single focus area which is relevant to, most of all – the Customer. 

Often we will use segmentation to identify different types of customers – i.e. Personas - in order to map not only the Customer Journey and Experience today but agree as a group what the appropriate Customer Experience should be tomorrow for each Personas.

It is important to think in Personas versus generic Customers because it is likely that today most Fashion Retail customers experience the same journey whether they are important, loyal customers or new customers.  The only differentiation is delivered on an ad-hoc level based on the experience and approach of the Sales Staff or whether the Customer is on a mailing list.

The insights from these workshops are invaluable to all participants and often open unexplored avenues and opportunities for all.

Uniting a team around the Customer Experience is the first step in understanding where you want to go as an organization.