Monday, November 19, 2012

Connecting a Consumer Centric Platform

What does it take to satisfy consumers?

Thanks to the smartphone and digital interactions, shopping today is often completely different than the systems we deployed in the past.  Retail Systems Research recently concluded a three-part series on an overarching cross-channel architecture based on a presentation at the RIS News Cross-Channel Executive Summit entitled “Becoming Omni-Channel Ready for 2017″.

All the components needed to create a consistent consumer experience across shopping channels is like the old children's song: Dem Bones.
The leg bone is connected to the knee bone;
The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone;
The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone;
Now shake dem skeleton bones!
The individual components read like a government procurement contract with all those three-letter acronyms (TLA).
  • CRM - customer relationship management is responsible for a 360-degree view of the consumer (also referred to as Master Data Management (MDM))
  • PIM - product information management covers not only the physical information about the product, the various merchandising hierarchies but also the communal content found in reviews and ratings
  • DAM - digital asset management deals the classification, control, storage and distribution of content to all matter of channels and devices, often simultaneously  
  • OMS - order management system responsible for ensuring inventory supports demand; no sense promoting something you can't deliver
  • POS - point of sale captures the transaction and includes both in-store and ecommerce platforms, at least for this discussion
The glue that connects them together has the unfortunate techy name of "Service Oriented Architecture" (SOA).  These techniques are most common in supply chain functions where retailer systems talk to manufacturer systems.  In the case of consumer experience, cross-channel marketing along the shopping journey requires this type of thinking as well.  Whether it is one platform or a collection, this is where it all comes together.

Some key points:
  1. This isn't something you can buy today from any one vendor.
  2. This won't happen overnight; it is a 3-5 year plan. 
  3. Marketing is now a line, operational function with P&L responsibility.
  4. It will take a market-leading vision to get there.
  5. Insight-driven changes in marketing plans is the only way to justify this.

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