Magnificent Mile - Yes. Multichannel Mile…Still A Work in Progress

Recently two colleagues of mine, Patti Freeman Evans and Martin Gill, put their respective cities’ shopping meccas to the multichannel test.  The question: To what extent were bricks and mortar retailers on Fifth Ave in New York and Oxford Street in London using their physical stores to advertise and promote their digital channels?  

Eager not to be left out...and curious to see how my city of Chicago would fare…I paid a visit to our world famous “Magnificent Mile” to see if/how bricks and mortar retailers promoted a connection to their own digital channels.

As I walked both sides of Michigan Ave (home to retailers such as Northface, Macys and Gap…as well as high-end retailers such as Tiffanys, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel)…I thought to myself, would Chicago be different from London and New York?  Would America’s heartland have a better feel for a large and growing number of shoppers today who may physically “be” in stores but whose shopping “attention” may reside elsewhere?

Some findings:

  • Traditional Brands Disappointed.  Count among this grouphigh-end/luxury brands and more established brands (e.g. Louis Vuitton, Macys).  Which is not to say that all youth-oriented brands excelled (e.g. Zara, Disney)…in fact, a surprising number of them failed to show their multichannel chops (e.g. no URLS in store, no discernable mobile presence). For example, The Disney Store was heavily promoting the “Cars 2” movie on monitors in its store, but I could not find any links anywhere to their content-rich website.
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What Are The Key Attributes Of An Agile Customer Service Organization?

As Brian Walker discusses in “Welcome To The Era Of Agile Commerce,” traditional ways of describing multichannel commerce no longer work because customers don't interact with companies from a "channel" perspective. As a result, eBusiness professionals must transform how they market, transact, serve, and organize around changing customer experiences.

This has a significant impact on customer service. Agile customer service means providing a consistent and channel-agnostic customer experience across all touchpoints. Let’s think about this from a customer’s perspective: An agile customer service experience means customers can interact with whatever touchpoints they choose -- website, mobile app, kiosk, telephone, IVR -- and all along the way, your organization has identified who they are, knows what their last interaction with you entailed, anticipates what help they might need, and can meaningfully recommend products or services that might enhance their experience.

I am writing a document to explore the attributes of an agile customer service organization and have been speaking with many eBusiness leaders.

The general consensus in the conversations I’ve had to date is that the objective is fairly clear but the path to get there is ambiguous.

At the same time, there is a sense of urgency because consumers are pushing us into technologies to deliver the experience they desire; customers are adopting social media, mobile devices, tablets, and other technologies, and they have increasingly high expectations about how these will help improve or simplify their lives.

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