Today’s customers expect a consistent experience whenever they interact with your brand: in the store, on the website or eCommerce site, with the mobile app, and through packaging.
But making the necessary changes within an organization to accomplish that streamlined, unified experience can be a big task. SPS Commerce recently wrote about some of the factors that have to be in place for a company to build their omnichannel strategy for success: executive buy-in, performing a landscape analysis, creating a single marketing message, and choosing between an in-house, outsourced or hybrid system.
However you approach change, one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of omnichannel success is the people who carry out the day-to-day business. This takes a bigger commitment than just hiring a couple digital retail web developers to create a flashy website.
Training your staff and re-evaluating how you manage people and processes are important for creating a culture in your company that embraces omnichannel strategy and the technology that accompanies it.
Recently, SPS Commerce and Retail Systems Research (RSR) released the results of our fifth annual survey of more than 500 retailers, suppliers, distributors, and logistics firms to understand their outlook and strategic focus for the coming year. When we asked these companies what they considered to be their three top competitive advantages in this omnichannel world, “a strong internal culture” consistently ranked high among the top retail performers. When your staff is all on the same page, working towards a cooperative goal, the effort can pay off dividends.
How to encourage a company culture that embraces change and technology
The following are some things to consider to help your company embrace a shift towards embracing technology and the consumer era.
Paint a picture. Whenever you’ve made other big changes, you probably had a vision that you wanted to achieve and shared it with your employees. The same thing applies to embracing a more technologically savvy omnichannel culture. Make sure that people understand where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve. Where is the North Star for your business and service objectives? You have to be able to clearly communicate where you are and where you need to be when your initiative is in place.
Drive home the value. Why is your omnichannel strategy important to your company? Show your colleagues and employees, particularly technologists, where the connection is between their work and the goals of the project. The better you can get people to understand the value of your efforts, the closer you’ll get to creating a company culture that embraces omnichannel and digital tech in your company.
Create milestones. When a company has had a standard way of operating for decades, switching gears to compete in the modern digital landscape can seem like a huge project. That’s where instrumentalism can be extraordinary for accomplishing your goals; you don’t want people to feel like they’re biting off more than they can chew. What can you accomplish in short sprints that will help your overall, big-picture strategy? You need to create short-term wins for your teams to accomplish in order to get to the long-term objectives. Undertaking small wins will help keep you on the right path. Celebrate each milestone as they are completed, and over time you’ll reach the final goalpost.
Update your processes. It’s hard to embrace new operations and technologies when your employees are stuck with old and outdated processes. With new capabilities and priorities, your processes should be changing and adjusting as well. That’s especially true if your old processes aren’t aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’ve automated your EDI to intake purchase orders and invoices, it doesn’t make sense to have someone compare all of them manually. Operationalize the process to make sure the appropriate fields on invoices and POs match, and have that person only address the ones that didn’t match up.
Encourage curiosity and new ways of thinking. I’m not one for censorship, but there’s one phrase I absolutely can’t stand to hear: “We’ve always done it this way.” Evolution is the name of the game and no company can afford such attitudes that are resistant to change. Encourage employees to rethink about how they can do their work better, faster and more efficiently. And let them know that it’s OK to fail when we try new things, as long as something is learned in the process so that the next idea is more successful. That’s how more effective solutions are discovered. If you don’t fail a few times, it either means you’re not taking big enough risks or you’re not trying at all.
Get everyone involved. Bringing a company into the digital era can be done, but part of the process depends on having people to lead the charge, and cheerleaders to maintain motivation and encourage everyone to get involved. It’s one thing to have that strategy in place, but it’s another for your company culture to fully embrace omnichannel strategy and it’s importance to your company’s future. If employees are nervous or unwilling to change their ways from the old methods, it could prevent the whole company from moving forward quickly. An effective digital/tech culture doesn’t happen without intervention from its C-level executives to cultivate a company-wide appreciation for it. From the CEO to the CIO to the IT techs and customer service reps, everyone plays a role in making your omnichannel efforts a success.
As you roll out your omnichannel strategy, it’s good to remind everyone continually that it’s all about the consumer. If your company doesn’t meet their expectations, a competitor will. As a team, your organization can excel and delight its customers, but not if nothing changes. Keeping an eye on the customer and how your omnichannel initiative is tailored to them will keep everyone focused on the goal. After all, we are all consumers with growing expectations.
To learn more about creating an operational backbone that supports an omnichannel, customer-focused strategy, download How to Grow Your Business in a Consumer Choice Economy.
This post originally appeared on SPS Commerce’s blog.
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