Direct-to-Customer Commerce

Icon

Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

The eighth step to multichannel commerce

Step 8 is marketing & promotion.

What a can of worms that is … or at least can be!  And obviously, in a single post, I’m not going to cover this topic.  This is a topic of unending variables.

I really only want to make a few points.  First recognize the difference between the channel or medium and the activity.  You can advertise by mail, market by mail and promote by mail.  Mail is a medium of communications.  Advertising, marketing and promoting are the activities.

Multichannel commerce, it seems clear, by definition refers to conducting commerce (which means generating sales) thru multiple channels.  So, I’m not taking about advertising, which is just sending a message.  I’m thinking about making an offer to a customer or prospective customer to conclude a transaction with me.

We have more channels than ever, for commerce:

  • brick and mortar stores (fact-to-face)
  • paper mail (flyers, postcards, letter packages, catalogs)
  • electronic mail
  • social media
  • web store
  • smart phone app
  • tablet app
  • telephone
  • direct response broadcast (radio, television)

… and I’m probably leaving something out.

So, in the ideal world, your marketing & promotion efforts will generate commerce transactions with your customers.  And it should be your customers choice to use any particular channel.  Your offers, products, promotions should all be visible to your customers across all channels.  And that takes no small effort.

Here’s the next important point:  If you can’t measure it, consider not doing it.  The beauty of direct marketing, direct commerce, whatever you choose to call it, is that it’s measurable.  And with technology you can almost measure everything.  But not everything is worth measuring.  But if you’re not measuring anything, you’re wasting a lot of time and money.  And if you’re measuring so much you can’t comprehend the data or analyze the data, you’re still wasting a lot of time and money.

So, be deliberate about what you measure.  The most basic and most useful things to measure are:

  • customers who got an offer
  • customers who bought
  • how much they bought
  • how many they bought
  • what it cost to make the offer
  • what it cost to fulfill the offer

You’ll know a lot, if you keep these six data points for every channel and every promotion.

Think about this … it’s a lot to think about.

Filed under: Ideas, multichannel commerce, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The sixth step to multi-channel commerce

Step 6 is about customer service.

Customer service poses an interesting problem for multi-channel merchants.  A common complaint about customer service at brick & mortar stores is that a shopper often can’t find anyone to even take their money, much less help them with a problem.  And I suspect this is at least one factor in driving some people to the web, where customer-self-service is more possible.

In the direct commerce environment, merchants often are faced with a conflicting dilemma.  Customer service remains an expensive proposition, even when it’s over the phone or via some text based medium (SMS, chat, Twitter, email, Facebook), because it takes so many people.

However, on the other side, customer service is often a merchant differentiator.  So, it’s well within the self-interest of merchants to provide as good a customer service experience as possible.

Seth Godin, in his blog, on Sep 26, 2012, wrote:   The simplest customer service frustration question of all … “Why isn’t this as important to you as it is to me?”

And the reality, it often seems, is that a customer’s problem is rarely as important to the merchant as it is to the customer.  But that is so easy to change, if merchant leadership decides to do it.

Nearly everyone has had horrible customer service experiences and nearly everyone has had great ones.  Customer Service staff needs to have the authority to fix customer issues and the tools to do so.

In addition, customer service should be reachable via a channel or medium of the customer’s choice … a list of options which is continuing to grow:

  • phone
  • web self service
  • chat
  • SMS (short message service), aka text messaging
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • electronic mail

And here’s an important reminder:  Customer Service should come before your web site.  It rarely does, but it should.  Because the moment your web store goes live, you’ll need customer service.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, multichannel commerce, , , , , , , , , ,

Are you using Social Media for Customer Relationships

If you’re not, you probably should be.  When your customers mention you in Twitter, on Facebook, or in any other social media, they are giving you feedback — good or bad — and it’s your chance to interact with them.

Don’t let these opportunities go by.  And don’t let social media only be the domain of the marketing staff.  Because social media are not just for distributing promotion codes or advertising messages.  Social media are for venting.  For praising.  For bashing.  For ….

Social media are your chance to demonstrate you are listening, paying attention, and willing to do something.

New tools are coming out regularly … they are very affordable for most companies.  You should monitor the social media with the same discipline and focus as you give your phone calls and emails.  Well, maybe more focus, because a lot of companies try to avoid answering the phone and take forever to answer emails!

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Survey Says …

Customer service is tops at retaining customers …


Here’s a headline in Internet Retailer, I love to see, because I’ve been “preaching” this forever.  Most of the people who buy via direct commerce channels (web, phone, mail) are more concerned about convenience and customer service than about price.


Price and breadth of merchandise selection are now table stacks or irrelevant.


After all, it’s so easy to find a specific product at a price I’m willing to pay, that breadth of selection is not inherently a strategic advantage — especially when attracting new customers.


And as far as price goes — follow me on this:


Have you ever used one of the comparison price engines?  You can find 20 web sites, all selling the exact product you want to buy.  And you can site at your computer and see all their prices simultaneously.  Do you always pick the lowest price?


I know I don’t.  I first look for a familiar name.  And if I don’t see one, I look for customer ratings (not completely reliable, but at least a good indicator).


I steadfast avoid companies who don’t accept returns (unless I know it’s something I’ll keep).


You see, my concern is about my convenience.  I don’t want to get stuck with something that disappoints.  I want a company I can trust to treat me reasonably, if not unreasonably well.


Even in good times, Customer Service is the best way to keep the best and the most customers.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Opinion, , , ,

Pages

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 27 other followers

2016 ElectionsNovember 8th, 2016
Get ready!
June 2017
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930