I saw a post go moderately viral on LinkedIn this week where an ecommerce professional lamented his experience at a big box retailer. His complaint, essentially, was that in-store management refused to accept an online coupon. He was at the store, and the store had the product. Presumably the store and the digital channel are the same company, right? What’s the big deal?
In my experience consulting to big box national retailers, this is not uncommon. It is not, generally speaking, a consequence of policy or principle — that would just be silly. But rather, it’s stubbornness and legacy systems’ inability to serve a true omnichannel customer.
In 2017 there is nothing remarkable about this selling scenario. Of course customers check prices on their phone. Of course they see items in emails that they want to buy in person – maybe it’s a large item, or perhaps something they need that day.
The complicating factor in enterprise retail is that in-store and online operations frequently operate as silos inside the organization. Indeed, some of our retail clients have entirely separate merchandising and marketing teams… sometimes completely different suppliers! In this case it’s no surprise, when a customer requests what should be a perfectly logical and agreeable accommodation – take this coupon and I’ll buy this right now – that management is forced to say no, because it just isn’t possible to reconcile in back end systems. What a shame!
In my humble opinion, there’s a simple fix here. And that fix is just to fix it, whatever it takes. Figure it out on the back end. Treat the coupon as a markdown. Decide on a revenue share between channels. Realize that customers don’t care about shitty legacy systems – they care about customer experience.
In-store and digital ops should work hand in hand! Physical stores are one of the ONLY advantages multichannel retailers maintain over internet-only behemoths. In this day and age, the consequence of a lousy experience is a pissed off customer unlikely to come back, and pushed further toward the gravitational pull of Amazon.