Why Do Retailers Insist on Talking “Channels”?

March 27, 2015
Christopher Schyma, Vice President of Sales

In a highly competitive environment, how can retailers move the dial and achieve better results by focusing on outcomes instead of channels? 

For innovative retailers there are now capabilities that can help online customers and create significant revenue. Not just tiny upticks, either: Companies are already seeing new, incremental gains of 4-5% in online revenues, and even more.  

Argos—the UK’s leading digital retailer—has teamed with [24]7.ai to begin focusing on outcomes that can deliver results like those, by offering Predictive Sales chat to customers.

This partnership provides an excellent example of how innovative technology can deliver more personalized, channel-agnostic experiences. Real-time behavioral analysis and prediction identify customers’ intents, then offer contextualized assistance at the “moment of truth” in their purchase journey. Customers reach satisfactory outcomes in the simplest ways possible.

As Argos continue to impress in a challenging retail environment, one key point struck me as an important takeaway: Argos’ relentless test-and-learn attitude. It brings newness to an industry that typically has been slow to innovate. What’s more, Argos is clearly focused on delivering outcomes rather than channel optimization.

Channels Versus Outcomes

Too often, companies jump from channel to channel—phone, online, social and most recently mobile—as if this were the answer to delivering best-in-class experiences. They focus on channels rather than starting with desired outcomes and working backwards.

As Argos’ digital partner, focusing on outcomes aligned perfectly to my view of the world we operate within. With hugely disruptive businesses entering the industry every day I believe it is vital that retailers focus on those metrics that really move the dial in driving more favorable outcomes, both for the customer and for the business.

Focusing on outcomes ensures that we are actually helping customers. By identifying intent— what they want to buy, changing a delivery date, adding a warranty—we can anticipate and provide the best solutions. We can also look at cross-channel journeys in context. Where our traditional approach was “hey, let's build this great website, native app, or mobile experience” we now ask “what if the desired outcomes cross those channels?”

The Benefits of an Outcomes-based Approach

The buzzword “omnichannel” seems a painful non-answer that merely accentuates the problems in a channel-centric approach to serving customers. Too often focusing on channels simply increases costs with limited results.

The new way of operating based on outcomes stems from a philosophy of combining design, data, and experience so that we better understand customer journeys. We can deliver outcomes based on what customers are trying to achieve, and engineer experiences that ensure simple, intuitive outcomes whatever the channel.

The Argos example illustrates that perfectly. The company wants to boost online revenues whilst improving customer satisfaction. It is taking bold steps. And what better industry than retail to prove that focusing on outcomes can be the key to this?

Disruptive new entrants like Uber or AirBnB have redefined their spaces. Perhaps the biggest question arising from all this is “Who from the retail world will deliver similar game-changing, outcome-focused experiences that take us all by surprise?"

Christopher Schyma, Vice President of Sales
Christopher Schyma, Vice President of Sales

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