Creating the Omni-Channel
There’s no bigger industry evangelist for omni-channel marketing—the capability to meet and service consumers at every possible touch point—than Best Buy. The retailer has declared it a top priority to render the product research and buying experience seamless for buyers, whether they are toggling between mobile devices and home computers, calling in an order or browsing the showroom floor. And despite Best Buy’s recent problems, it has the resources to execute the play on a grand scale.
So how is it even possible for independent CE retailers with limited resources to create their own omni-channel strategies? Several independent dealers, it turns out, have already started the process, with many of them turning to their buying groups for help.
“A guy in a single market, clearly, can’t do a true omni-marketing campaign on a national scale,” said David Workman, executive director and COO of the PRO Group and executive vice president of PRO Source. “But there are ways to localize the effort. You have to pick your battles and apply the disciplines.”
Efforts like BrandSource’s new mobile shopping app and its evolving partnership with eBay are helping members achieve broader visibility. The group’s new ExpertTech cloud-based point-of-sale platform enables deeper data management and information exchange among the dealer, warehouse and vendor. BrandSource is also talking with Google about a product specifically for traditional brick-and-mortar dealers that harness the Internet in new ways, such as providing consumers with virtual store tours.
“One of the biggest challenges for consumers who’ve never shopped with you before is letting them know what you’re all about,” Workman said. “This gives the retailer the ability to provide store views in a very efficient manner.”
The idea of stretching precious resources to create an omni-channel strategy is still daunting to many retailers. “I’m a small-business guy, busy dealing with the expected and the unexpected,” said Alan Guyes, principal and home A/V buyer for Audiotronics of Roanoke, Va. “How do you tie all the pieces together?”
Independent dealers face many challenges when trying to create a 360-degree marketing strategy—mainly finding the time, talent and money to make it happen. Another challenge is that some vendors require dealers to use different systems when sending pre-formatted emails to market products.
“I have different email lists and need to maintain many platforms,” Guyes said. “It’s a sticky wicket.” To overcome some of those problems, dealers are building their omni-channel in stages, with each step helping to increase sales and develop deeper customer relationships.