Businesses that are innovating across multiple digital channels are growing fast. It should come as no surprise that Amazon has outperformed the rest of the retail sector over the last 5 years. As Capgemini CEO Paul Hermelin stated recently “People [at Amazon] innovate, and I truly believe the future belongs to those who innovate.”

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 as part of a “regret minimization framework”, his effort to fend off regret for not capitalising on the internet gold rush. He had heard the hype about the Internet and realised if it did take off as predicted he would be left behind. By the end of 2009 26% of the world’s population were online and Jeff’s personal net worth has rocketed to $18.1bn.

My question for those reading this post is; what does your “regret minimization framework” look like for social, mobile and local technology?

The ubiquity of social, mobile and traditional technology presents a real opportunity for those bold enough to innovate in the digital world, especially when you consider that;

Many ‘innovative’ businesses have built outposts on these digital channels through mobile apps, Facebook stores, Twitter accounts and brand pages. However, with all this innovation the challenge remains for many: each channel operates independently. True digital transformation will require the customer experience to be unified across all these channels. This is the very definition of omnichannel.

How omnichannel is different from multi-channel retail

For me, there a number of factors that have happened that are driving this need for an ‘ominchannel’ approach;

  1. We all know customers are using their phones to browse online product catalogues, read fellow customer review, and share their own feedback – because we are those customers
  2. The ever increasing use of Facebook Connect is completely changing the way we register our details and connect with brands
  3. GPS enables us to find the store location and get local, targeted offers as we stand at the front door
  4. Retailers recognise that when a customer arrives in-store there is no excuse for not delivering a personlised service for them e.g. have a pre-booked changing room or demonstration of a product because we know they were chatting about it on twitter
  5. As consumers, we are increasingly setting the expectation that we can purchase using our mobile wallet

Retailers are missing a massive opportunity. If all of this data was tied to an eCRM they would have a single view of the customer that compares a customers’ buying habits with social business intelligence systems, sends out best offers vouchers to encourage more spending, and ultimately delivers first class customer experiences!

In my opinion, Apple are a great of example of a retailer who has ‘cracked’ this and are moving towards omnichannel model by allowing customers to checkout using the card they’ve stored on iTunes. This truly demonstrates the principle of having a centralised technology framework delivering a great customer experience across physical and digital channels.

The original questions was what does your regret minimization framework look like for Social, Mobile and Local? The answer will be different for every retailer depending on their products, locations, technology, processes and staff. Whilst true Omnichannel retail may sound like utopia, it is within grasp. A simple first step is to create a vision of what a unified customer experience across physical and digital channels looks like for your customers. From this vision you can define the systems, structure and roles required, and create a roadmap of gradual change.

Who do you think is getting the retail experience right across social, mobile and local?
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