The potential for omnichannel analytics, part 1 of 3
Omnichannel is a hot topic for retailers. Many see it as a critical next step for those with bricks and mortar. Measurement and understanding will be a key part of their success.
The retail industry recently has seen a great deal of focus on omnichannel strategies – an integrated approach for online, mobile, and of course brick and mortar. With all of the writing on this topic, however, I have yet to see any dialog about omnichannel analytics. I’ll define omnichannel analytics as the integration and intelligent use of the various pieces of information available through each of these different retail channels in order to more holistically understand the buyer and path to purchase.
From a system perspective, analytics for these channels today are quite separate from each other. The web team is collecting all sorts of metrics like page views, unique visitors, average time per page, bounce rates, and the like. The mobile app is owned by the IT department and is collecting a similar set of usage statistics. Similarly, store operations measures traffic, movement throughout the store, sales, and conversion using tools like RetailNext.
Different metrics in different systems are viewed by different people within a retail organization. And yet, they’re all viewing the same set of customers. But they’re viewing those customers through different lenses and taking different actions based on what they see. This flies in the face of the basic idea of omnichannel strategy, which is that the customer is a single human being who understands your brand through all of these different channels together. So why would we treat them like different people based on whether they choose to use their phones, their laptops, or their feet?
Now imagine what happens when you start to pull all of these separate analytics together into a single data cube. Important questions about customers’ holistic shopping behavior begin to answer themselves. Here are just a few examples:
- When customers start using your mobile app, how does that affect their behavior in other channels? Are mobile purchases net-new or cannibalized from the older channels? Or does mobile app usage actually increase use of these other channels? All are possible, but for each retailer only one is the case. Which is it? Now you can find out.
- How much mobile app usage takes place actually in the store? Are shopper behavior patterns different when a mobile app is in use as opposed to when it isn’t?
- How frequently does the same customer look at your products in the store and then purchase from you through another channel? Many retailers are geared up to combat “showrooming,” but if the showrooming shopper winds up as your own customer on your site or mobile app, then your store becomes an asset to the electronic channels.
- Does your online store actually serve as the starting point, enabling customers to winnow down their choices before they purchase in the store – maybe to get the items immediately or to see them in person before making a final purchase decision?
Next time I’ll get into the technology components required for insights like these.