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Multi-Channel Strategy: Forget What You Know. Customers See a Different World

Multi-Channel Strategy: Forget What You Know. Customers See a Different World
The days of single channel purchasing have long since passed. Companies have responded to consumer demands for time efficiency by providing greater convenience and flexibility when shopping and purchasing. The outcome is greater access through multiple channels beyond traditional brick-&-mortar stores: Internet, catalogs, phone, text-messaging, kiosk, etc.Companies with effective strategies are reaping the benefits. E-commerce and multi-channel retailing are growing approximately 30% a year in transaction value, a critically important area of top-line growth. At the customer level, multi-channel customers spend, on average, 20% to 30% more money compared to their single-channel counterparts. Capitalizing on this market evolution presents significant, on-going challenges. Determining a strategy involves more than deciding which channels to operate and emphasize, it encompasses market and competitive intelligence, pricing architecture, operational structure, demand planning in relation to inventory and order management, fulfillment and liquidation, supply chain management, CRM, and brand promise.
The current understanding of multi-channel strategy vs. customer experience with multi-channel disconnect begins and ends with understanding the options available to customers across industries and not within individual silos. Companies must understand what the customer experiences and determine where to play in order to be successful. This includes addressing issues such as:
  • Understanding how the multi-channel market is evolving and proliferating. The nature of shopping and purchase venues is constantly expanding through text-communication, remote kiosks, etc. as well as consumer touch-points for service (e.g., geo-shopping locater service). Knowing where to be in relation to current and future channels is the essence of strategy.
  • Moreover, most companies develop their multi-channel strategy from an intra-industry model. They look to what rival competitors are doing in order to gauge market standards trying to keep up with the Joneses. Customers, however, dont care what the Joneses are doing; they care what the entire neighborhood is doing.
  • Companies must understand and anticipate that customers perceptions, evaluations, and selections of where and what to purchase, in addition to loyalty and advocacy, are based on a comprehensive experience.
  • To this end, companies need to proactively understand customers expectations of the multi-channel experience: who is engaging in multi-channel shopping / purchasing, through what channels and within which industries.
  • Companies also need to understand what customers expect in the future: across all industries as well as within a given industry; how the current utilization of channels impacts expectations of the future; what channels customers are seeking, and how many consumers are anticipating using such channels.


  • Marla Chupack

    Moderator, American Marketing Association

  • Jill Glathar

    Ph.D., Vice President and Director, Market Planning and Development Practice, Opinion Research Corporation

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Sponsored by

Opinion Research Corporation

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Last-Modified: Tue, 19 Jul 2011 23:13:58 GMT

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