A few years ago, the buzzword du jour was SoLoMo, a concept that aimed to integrate the megatrends of social, location-based information and mobile platforms.
As a term, it’s faded into the background (and we certainly don’t need to try reviving it), but the idea is worth bringing up again in this context: many brands are still struggling to create a seamless shopping experience for their customers.
Between remaining “turf war” mindsets between in-store and ecommerce departments and the investment needed to make disparate systems integrate, brands are behind the customer-centric model that SoLoMo suggested could be right around the corner.
There are, of course, a few who do this really well. And Ben Bailey, Manager, eCommerce Site Operations at Sterling Jewelers and one of Monetate’s Customer Champions, recently pointed out that Apple has been acing this for a few years.
To illustrate the point, he shared a recent shopping experience, recounted in full here:
Recently, I bought a new iPad Air. The Apple site made comparing the Air to the older model easy, and I ended up buying it. I selected the option to pick it up in the store, and within minutes of the purchase, I received both a text and an email saying it was ready to pick up. I went to the store and was back out of the door in 5 minutes. Best experience ever.
With the technology we have today, there is no excuse not to create great experiences for customers across all channels. Too many companies silo their marketing, which creates a disjointed experience for the customer. Everything should work in tandem so that the customer doesn’t even realize how smooth it is.
A lot of us, probably, have had the same experience as Ben. At the very least, we’ve probably heard a story like this before. What struck me about Ben’s story, though, was the second paragraph. He hit the nail on the head with why the experience was so effective.
Though Apple tracks how much they sell online against how much they sell in their retail stores, every action they take (from creating a self-checkout app to hiring Angela Ahrendts, Burberry’s CEO, to run it’s retail and online stores) seems to indicate that they don’t really care if your money goes to their brick-and-mortar or ecommerce lines of business. Because, at the end of the day, they have your business.
Though that may sound harsh and capitalistic, it’s the very thing that allows them to focus on the customer and create experiences that transition seamlessly from the online to in-store channel.
Really, that’s just a long way of saying that the less silos you have in your organization, the happier your customers will be.
Many brands understand that customers don’t want to be hamstrung by organizational silos, and some of the best are starting to do something about it. Amazon, for instance, is spending a fortune trying to get products to customers the same day they order them. And some innovative brands are using online sales data, localized to specific regions, to determine which products they should stock in their brick-and-mortar stores.
Apple, though, is the undisputed leader in creating a seamless, customer-facing multi-channel shopping experience. And there’s no reason for brands not to follow that lead.
For a customer, there is no bigger disappointment than seeing a deal or product online, going to the nearest store, and finding out that the product is out of stock or the deal is not available.
Customers don’t think about organizational silos and the limitations such divisions can cause. They think, “Hey, that’s a great product.” or “Hey, that’s a great deal.” and they want instant gratification. It’s up to you as to whether you’ll deliver it.