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Brick meets Click – omnichannel era

As BIM students, most of you will probably work in the near future on some IT projects and, thus, it may be worth knowing what does the future hold for you. No matter which industry you choose you will most likely be faced with a somehow omnichannel related project since nowadays companies worldwide are turning to omnichannel strategy. In the world populated by IT and brand savvy consumers, companies must abandon product-focused or channel-focused approach and embrace an unparalleled customer journey as their prime business imperative. Accordingly, in 2015 29 percent of retail companies’ capital expenditures has been destined for improving their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities [6], given that most of the expenditures are made up of IT spending [7]. This percentage will be even grater over the next few years taking into account the following insights:

In 2016 customer experience will garner the highest level of marketing investment; it is one of three areas in which CEO’s expectations of CMOs will increase the most; and bleeding-edge technologies to improve it will be the top innovation project marketers undertake. Marketers will lead the customer experience cross-functionally across all touch points in the majority of companies by 2016 [3].

By 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations [4].

By 2020, the need for a unified consumer omni-channel experience will be complicated by the need for nearly perfect execution. However, expert use of business intelligence tools, coupled with a profound understanding of shoppers‘ needs and experiences in real time, may make omni-channel a realistic goal [1].

 By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator [2]. 

However, though today’s consumer engages through a variety of touchpoints, most brands struggle to ensure seamless transition across channels being a seamless customer crosstouchpoint journey. Where is the root of the problem?

Most companies put emphasis on each touchpoint as a standalone channel keeping it in isolation what impedes smooth transition between them, even though common sense dictates the consumer that it should be possible during the experience.

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As range of touchpoints on the customer journey is ever swelling the journey is getting more and more complex. Stores, kiosks, tablets, call centers, mobile devices, social media, and more all create countless combinations of ways they mutually interact. It is interesting how all those touchpoints interpenetrate, e.g. smarthopne users use their devices in the store to discover products they are about to buy or they explore product in the store to order it online via selfcheckout kiosk in that store. Thus, companies are embracing this trend by tinkering with some app-driven store experiences, as an examble, Auchan is launching a mobile shopping list app including speech recognition technology to allow user to dictate their shopping items.

However, examples of brands that cannot optimize their cross-touchpoint experience are far more numerous and they are following:

So Mini looses your identity along the way. At first, it lets you explore and experiment with combinations of color, body style and optional extras so that you could configure your dream car. But as it comes to booking a test drive, the configuration is not passed to the dealership and user must fill in all the details again on a separate form. Mini is a prominent evidence how a brand fails to transition the potential buyer from the web to the dealership.

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Gap offer a flexible click-and-collect service, enabling pickup of online orders in any of its group stores – Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc. Yet product return is possible only through a store of the brand of the purchased product. This illustrates how retail brands struggle with reverse logistics and especially with a lack of web and store stock integration which is must-have for efficient omnichannel service.

And the last one, Air Canada which offers standalone mobile capabilities. Air Canada customer can book a flight via mobile application but cannot modify the booking on any digital touchpoint, the only way it can be done is on the mobile app.

Fortunately, there is a way to embrace the omnichannel disruption and it boils down to the three following rules.

  1. Limit the complexity and range of the patterns – focus on few high-value and most frequent experiences. Then express the cross-touchpoint experiences as action-oriented tasks that are meaningful to the consumer. Point out tasks which add value to both the consumer and the brand, for the former value stands for convenience or choice, for the later usually it is a sales increase.
  1. Optimize the journey, not the touchpoint – it is essential to identify the role of each touchpoint within the customer lifecycle in the context of a given journey or customer segment. The identification helps define the functionality, feature and design. These are some useful techniques for this task:
  • Mapping the end-to-end journeys
  • Identifying valid touchpoints within the context of the journeys
  • Tuning each touchpoint to its role in the ecosystem
  1. Focus on transition – the key area and at the same time the most vulnerable is transition from one touchpoint to another what comes down to the customer identity retaining and transitioning. It is difficult to recognize a single customer identity source across all the touchpoints, but there are some pretty good practices to overcome this problem:
  • Give the consumer a control of appointment booking – e.g. Bespoke tailor Cad and the Dandy offers shoppers an online suit design tool that allows them to select the style and fabric of their ideal made-to-measure suit. For the order completion, an in-person meeting with tailor is required to measure the customer. This meeting is handled via an online appointment booking system that offers customers a choice of appointments and emails them clear confirmation once booked.

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  • Use mobile to join the digital and physical worlds
  • Collect customer email addresses to enroll them in a multitouchpoint engagement.

Good luck on your omnichannel projects!


1) Retailing 2020: Winning in a polarized world by PWC:







Click to access Manage_The_Cross_Touchpoint_Customer_Journey.pdf

Forget apps, messaging bots are the future!

No more tapping and switching between endless number of websites and apps, each with different interface to get used to. No more a sored thumb and wasting precious seconds of your life on opening and closing all these things. Sounds like a dream?

As current search and mobile app paradigm is reaching its limits the new alternative is emerging and moving us into a conversation-based era. Imagine that you can order take-out food, book a taxi and pay bills with only one message. And all that in one app! This can be done with a messaging app being basically a bot. The messaging bot technology is rapidly gaining traction and is shifting entire smartphone Internet experience to new “platformized” level.

Messaging apps are becoming the new platform which incorporates functions played by a mobile operating system, whereas bots are new mobile apps.

Messaging platforms such as WeChat, Line, Facebook, Slack and Telegram subsume third-party services which were previously independent apps so that the bots can automate conversation, actions, workflows and handle transactions in response to users’ queries from within a messaging interface.

When it comes to a messaging bot itself, it is a pogram simulating human activity that operates as an agent for a user or another program what in practice means that it can read and write messages just as a human. Messaging bots are build by developers to provide automated services through the messaging interface of the platforms.


So for example you can purchase goods and services through e-commerce bots, while food bots order pizza for you. And there are content bots as well which deliver relevant content such as news and weather. If you happen to do some banking or trade stocks there is also a suitable bot for you. When you want to automate some of your business workflows in finance, sales, HR, admin or operations a workflow bot is just perfect. IoT bots will take care of your smart home, car, washing machine and so on. And when you finally get overwhelmed with all these bots, your Personal Assistant bot will come to your aid and grip the whole communication with rest of your bots so that you will receive only the most important requests.

From a development standpoint, since bots involve server-side code which is faster to develop, easier to maintain and platform-independent, bots can reduce time to market for emerging startups and enable developers to reach product-market fir sooner.

Summing up all these benefits, it can be clearly seen that bots render our mobile experience better what, as a result, makes customer acquisition and retention way easier for mobile developers.