European Brands are Embracing the Cross-Touchpoint Reality

I had the pleasure of presenting an evolution of our Agile Commerce research last week at the Internet Retailing conference in London. It was an interesting event on a number of fronts, but my key take-away from the event was a very positive one.

eBusiness executives in Europe have definitely woken up to the Agile Commerce message.

We can’t claim all the credit at Forrester, but I definitely got the feeling from listening to my fellow panelists on the Customer track present their stories that they were in the same place as we are now, at least in terms of strategic intent, if not yet in execution:

  • Simon Smith, Head of Multichannel Experience at O2 Telefonica described how he is bringing a service design ethos to delivering both consumer and employee experiences. Telefonica aims to design service experiences that are Individual, Relevant, Thoughtful, Reassuring and Amazing (SUPER, anyone?), and what was the most interesting piece about their story was that these experiences are designed from an outside in, customer first perspective before any of the individual touchpoints are designed. By basing these experiences on common personas and a wealth of analytical data, Telefonica then overlay touchpoints as appropriate, enabling them to step out of the discussion about “should we or shouldn’t we develop this or that functionality on this or that platform?” and into the more relevant discussion about “what touchpoints and experiences most make sense for our customers?”
  • UK camera retailer Jessops were also represented on stage by Associate Director - eCommerce Simon Joseph. He described Jessops’ transformation from having a stand-alone eBusiness team reporting into the Finance director to its current state where online orders (both web and store fulfilled) now represent 43% of the company’s revenue. He described the inevitable channel conflict between the stores and the web teams and gave some great examples of how the store KPIs have evolved to attribute click and collect sales revenues to the stores, but also how individual store associates are incentivized personally to encourage shoppers to shop multichannel.

I'll be speaking more on the subject of how to implement cross touchpoint customer journeys next month in London at the Forrester Outside In Forum EMEA, November 6-7. Or join my colleagues in the US at the Forrester Customer Experience Forum West to learn more about Outside In, November 14-15 in Los Angeles.

And it’s not just the retailers presenting that are heralding a multichannel future. Many of the vendors were proudly displaying their in-store offerings, from iPad kiosks to full blown 42” touch screen wizardry, and with many of the questions from the audience probing how to develop in-store digital experiences and questioning the future of the retail store, my suspicion is that we will see a lot more in-store technology beginning to appear in 2013.

The challenge that many of these brands still collectively face is that while the eBusiness teams may “get it”, in most cases the C-Suite still needs a wakeup call. There are a few rare exceptions, like Best Buy / Carphone Warehouse CEO Andrew Harrison, who described his multichannel epiphany in one of the keynote sessions. But in general, the challenge now is not one of convincing the eBusiness team that they