Online retail guide: Rethink 'multichannel'

An effective multichannel strategy for online toy retailers will generate more purchases, calls and in-store traffic. Here's some tips to make sure your website is working as hard as it can.
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Who holds the responsibility of capturing the value of all multichannel results in your company? 

Here are some of the questions that could help you to improve the measurement of your company's multichannel strategy (see the bottom of the article for a 'jargon explained' section):

1 – Is analysis a key subject in your management meetings? 

2 – How often does your company review stats and who reviews them?

3 – Who is watching traffic trends in your campaigns, especially during Christmas and other peak times during the year?

4 – Which decisions would change in your company if timely data was available to key business owners?

5 – Who is monitoring your competitors’ investment in campaigns?

6 – Who is developing consumer insights through focus groups and surveys?

7 – Which companies, consultants or departments in your company are you relying on to help you make better decisions?

Multichannel is incremental, therefore every company operating in this environment should have a team looking at data analysis.

Imagine that two retailers, both trading in a multichannel environment, are preparing a Christmas campaign. Both have decided to capture new opportunities exploring rich media advertisements across all types of device; mobile tablet, PC and TV. 

The campaign consists of giving parents a promotional voucher with 50 per cent discount to spend on one toy of their choice, purchased in-store on a specific day in December. 

They can get the voucher after filling in a form online or after calling the call centre and providing them with some data. 

Retailer A has a data analysis team that receives data from all channels. The results are measured against specific goals defined for this campaign and next year this team aims to improve the results of each one of these goals. With this approach the retailer gets to know sales results but also understands the customer journeys leading to the purchase.

The results of retailer B were measured individually for each one of the channels involved, and this retailer only compares results within a specific channel - for example, online purchasing. 

In the following year they may not run the promotion across all of their channels because some of them were not successful enough. Retailer B is going to invest in the channels that brought better results in terms of sales, for example its website only, because that is the data that is presented to the management team.

This story tells us that a brand may be available to customers across a series of touch-points, but when it comes to results these may be measured as a whole or channel by channel. 

Some channels are not sales effective but are contributing actively to the bottom line because they are relevant during the customer journey. Switching off or postponing investment in one of these apparently non-profitable touch-points may end up contributing to a less effective multichannel strategy and to an absence of operational reciprocity. 

Retailers who measure campaign effectiveness in channel 'silos' may be missing out on opportunities and revenue.

Some touch points might be seen as non profitable, this purely depends on the brand. This article isn't about saying which touch-points are profitable and which ones are not. The idea here is to explain the impact that different metrics may have in the business. 

Jargon explained

Touch-point: this is a group of channels used by the consumer to interact with the brand. These channels can be online or offline and may include a website, telephone, tablet, magazine, stores, radio, TV, social media networks, blogs, reports and articles.

Absence of operational reciprocity: An absence of feedback. There's operational reciprocity when activities within an organisation are organised in a multichannel approach. 

Multichannel strategy: Defines how different channels integrate and support each other in terms of their proposition, development and communication. 

Silos: A term to explain what happens when a channel does not communicate with another channel.

About the author

Maria Morais is Business Development Manager of e-commerce specialist There is a wealth of further more technically specific information that might be of interest at

You can read Neoworks' other online toy retail best practice guide on Multichannel operations here.

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