Are you ready for Christmas? Or are you having a silo night-mare?

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During summer, when we are busy sweltering in some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the UK, our attention turns to a certain event at the end of the year… Christmas. For some people, the thought of Christmas evokes joy and laughter. For marketers, however, Christmas can evoke dread and fear. Why? Because Christmas is the largest trading time of the year and it is essential to stand out and plan ahead.

So, what do you have to do to win Christmas? Is it (as many marketing magazines may have you believe) all about the big emotional TV ad? Some may even go a bit further and suggest you’ll need to throw in some fluffy toys and in-store theatre to deliver an integrated campaign. But ultimately it’s all about the ad.

However, reviewing 2014 we’re not 100% convinced that this will necessarily deliver the results that all retailers are seeking to achieve. Could it be possible that the focus on TV may actually distract us from what really needs to be done? What appears to be the answer is a lot less glamourous than a big TV campaign, which may be why some of the marketing magazines haven’t mentioned it and marketers prefer to ‘stick to what they know.’

So what was it that really helped Next, House of Fraser, John Lewis and the Supergroup deliver Christmas sales and profit above the market average in 2014? Their executives were pretty clear:

“A record performance from e-commerce combined with strong store operations led to what became a truly multi-channel Christmas,” – CEO Supergroup, Euan Sutherland.

“Our shops and our online channel, bricks and clicks, came together and it’s a story of the two being hand in glove and giving the customer what they really wanted and then we got the pricing right on top of that,” – John Lewis Managing Director Andy Street.

This performance demonstrates the success of our strategy to continuously improve our online proposition, develop both our House Brands and premium branded proposition and invest in our stores to give our customers the best possible shopping experience,”- House of Fraser CEO John King.

So for last year’s Christmas winners, a lot of their success was based on a strong omni-channel customer experience.

It is essential to get the omni-channel customer experience right. Getting online and offline to work together, delivering a consistent experience regardless of the touchpoint and really putting the customer at the heart of what you do.

However, achieving this in large organisations is hard. Everyone has their own channel objectives to hit and ‘If my bonus relies on online sales why should I care whether the offer that I have doesn’t fit with what the stores are doing?’ Furthermore, many marketers don’t have control or influence over the online channels and so product and service solutions become disparate and inconsistent.

But as an organisation you must cut through the departmental silos and put the customer first (even if that means that your particular channel may take a hit).

To do this, you need to go back to your internal basics and consider some of the following:

  • Is your structure suited to this new omni-channel world, i.e. does it encourage cross- channel thinking and behaviour?
  • Have you got the right processes that will ensure that the customer is at the heart of what you do and will have a consistent customer experience across your channels?
  • Are teams encouraged to work together through shared objectives?
  • Do you have an information democracy, or are you still operating by the adage ‘information is power’?
  • Are your metrics and KPIs aligned across departments so that performance is more easily tracked and benchmarked?
  • Do you have one view of the customer that is common to all business areas?

The combined answers to these questions are required in order to reflect changing consumer behaviour and to deliver a consistent, customer-focused experience.

It can’t be solved overnight as it takes some time to get all of this implemented, but even small steps to achieving a consistent experience for Christmas can improve results and avoid duplication of effort, resulting in money and time saved.

So who will be the winners this year? Will it be the big TV campaign or the truly omni-channel experience that will win out? Flock knows where we’ll be putting our money.

For help getting your omni-channel strategy up to scratch this Christmas, get in touch here. We have helped three tier one retailers transform their marketing and we can do the same for you.

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