Want Unified Commerce? Part 2: Why Omnichannel Customer Journeys Are Critical

Xavier MougeotBlog

Xavier Mougeot
By Xavier Mougeot
Global Managing Director
Logic’s Digital practice

Today’s customers expect to get what they want, when they want it, in the way that’s most convenient to them—whether that’s through mobile, in-store, or a combination. In the first blog post in this series, we covered the first foundational element of unified commerce: unified inventory. This time, we explore why you need omnichannel customer journeys to take your business to the next level.

Unified Commerce is built on Omnichannel Customer Journeys

If inventory is the “back office” of unified commerce, then omnichannel is the front office. Enabling omnichannel capabilities means creating a consistent shopping experience across every customer touchpoint, including physical stores, web, mobile, and third-party marketplaces. It also means providing personalized journeys for customers everywhere they interact. At the point of sale, for instance, this can happen through integrated clienteling and sophisticated options for fulfillment available to store associates—or at a kiosk.

Of course, it is important to remember that, along with unified commerce, omnichannel customer journeys themselves are evolving. As Gartner analysts write, “Online and offline activities are merging: Customers comparison shop with their smartphones while in-store, mobile apps help customers drive their cars and virtual experiences enable social interactions with friends and brands.”

Key Considerations for Omnichannel Enablement

As McKinsey analysts report, “Offering a compelling omnichannel experience used to be the bleeding edge of retail. Now it’s a requirement for survival.” But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

When thinking about how to design omnichannel customer journeys, I start with two questions:

  1. Do I have the product my customer wants, and what can I do with it?
  2. How can I expose that inventory to the customer, and show options for purchase and fulfillment?

We answered question #1 as part of our unified inventory work above. And it seems like we answered question #2 as well. But if you’re going to implement unified commerce in a way that’s sustainable, it’s critical to consider operational efficiency.

In the rush to meet customer expectations at the height of the pandemic, many retailers pushed out omnichannel customer journeys quickly. Only now are they taking a step back to consider which journeys are operationally efficient and which are placing a big hit on the bottom line.

Some of the questions we want to ask when determining how to efficiently enable omnichannel customer journeys include:

  • Which items are shipped from where—DC, store, or drop ship?
  • For store shipments, do you use a straight geographical model and ship from the closest store?
  • Do you have a competition model that scores your stores on speed and fulfillment, giving the order to the best store?
  • Do you have triggers so that if one store doesn’t fulfill the order in time, the system bumps it to the next store?
  • Does it make sense to ship coast to coast? Or, beyond a certain radius, is it better to tell the customer, “out of stock”?
  • Do you use ghost stores?
  • Do you ship the product directly from the supplier?
  • What are the logistics of your last-mile delivery?

Prioritizing Omnichannel Customer Journeys

When you go through all the permutations of possible journeys, prioritizing which are most important can become a dizzying exercise. Of course, the team at Logic can help. In helping our clients achieve unified commerce, we’ve already mapped out the most common journeys. We have experience with the trade-offs of one model versus another, and we can be your partner in thinking through the best approaches—both for quick wins and the long haul.
Our team can help your organization bridge the customer promise of great shopping experiences with the operational efficiency it needs to succeed.

As a quick example: I’m working with a retail enterprise in Latin America with hundreds of stores across a large geographic area—but only one warehouse to fulfill all its online orders. Because they carry low-priced items, the only way to profitably run the online business is to sell large baskets. To do this, they need more SKUs (or bundles) to increase basket size—too many SKUs to fit in just one warehouse!

For a client like this, we have several omnichannel enablement options that can help. In the shorter term, we might look to enable marketplace and ship-from-supplier capabilities to create “endless aisles.” In the longer term, we will look at opening more fulfillment centers, using sophisticated strategies based on regional demand patterns, and more.

Tune in to our next installment to find out about the third foundational element for unifed commerce: Modernizing architecture.

As the Global Managing Director of Logic’s Digital practice, Xavier Mougeot drives the next wave of commerce experiences and innovation at Logic. Xavier has led commerce strategies and customer experiences for companies including Rogers Communications, Stanley Black & Decker, General Motors, Mary Kay, AT&T, Sobeys, and Pfizer.

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