Archive for January 2010
Another day, another survey – one that highlights again that it’s still only a selected few retailers that are embracing true “Multi-Channel” behaviour (GSI Commerce International).
This got me thinking – why is it – given all the coverage and the data that indicates surety of success with multi-channel – that so many are not doing it?
Unfortunately, not being the MD/CEO of those retailers not doing it, I don’t really know. However the beauty of the blog (and tabloids) is the ability to speculate wildly.
I like to think, however, that my musings are slightly more well researched than some news publications, especially having worked for a proponent of Multi Channel retail solutions way back in 2000 when the concept was being mooted properly for the first time. What was clear then was that most were reluctant to do it first – and in addition felt it was a huge mountain to climb.
This seemed largely due to some hesitancy about whether or not web sales would take off as predicted (they have) and the fact that many retail web business units acted in a complete silo from the rest of the business.
However, move forward ten years and you have significant growth in online retail (17% year on year growth – December 2009 – according to the IMRG) and more progress around the integration of web into the retailers mainstream sales and marketing efforts.
What doesn’t seem to happening however (other than a few exceptions, Argos and John Lewis to name 2) is the transformation of customer service principles to embrace the new technological capabilities. This would indicate too that perhaps retailers aren’t using the technology to its full capacity when it comes to multi channel capability.
The technology exists today to full integrate web, in-store and distribution centre processes seamlessly – both for the forward and reverse supply chain. In principle, this should mean that all retailers offer similar levels of service capability for the consumer – the fact that they don’t indicates less about technology than it does about a focus on service and using technology to enable it.
The consumer won’t understand if they can’t return something in store that they bought online – to them the brand is the brand – regardless of where and when they purchased.
Service is not the only trick being missed – marketing departments have an untapped goldmine waiting for them in Multi-Channel. Many customers (all ages) browse online before coming in store – and yet painfully few retailers offer the ability to simply reserve something in store to come in and collect later (whether you pay for it or not). Ignoring the sales benefit of this for a moment – the marketing benefit of collecting data from people whether or not they buy from you is surely reason enough?
I realise I’m simplifying – however if service, and therefore revenue, is not a driver for investing in technology, I’m not sure what is.
BBC news featured a piece this morning called “Manufacturers bounce back” (I paraphrase) but it did highlight an interesting development that has started to occur in the UK manufacturing sector. Some small to mid size manufacturers have started to recall manufacturing processes back from the Far East in response to some complex market changes.
Cost is the primary factor – a weaker pound can make it less cost effective to outsource, along with factors such as rising Chinese inflation, and increasing transportation costs. But there are also elements of protecting the innovation and skills that we have in this country which are beginning to influence this trend. This innovation can drive process improvements in ways such as reducing dependence on labour during the manufacturing process, which in turn, can remove the cost consideration for outsourcing to countries where labour is cheap.
Britain has long been known for innovation – particularly when it comes to engineering and design. Many countries put British engineers at the top of their wish list when recruiting – and there is still a shortage of graduating engineers, which, if this changes, could strengthen the UK position. That’s still a pretty big if however.
What these smaller manufacturers seem to be responding to however, is the realisation that this type of expertise is in even shorter supply elsewhere, and that outsourcing manufacturing opens a door to others encroaching on that space. British manufacturers have an opportunity to differentiate – but only if the IP remains in this country.
With the Chinese economy still seeing high growth, I’m not suggesting there is a mass exodus – but it will be interesting to see if this trend grows in 2010 as companies seek to protect innovation – often the only differentiator in a highly competitive industry. There is reason to be optimistic – Manufacturing is still 12% of the overall GDP of this country – more than financial services (according to Lord Digby Jones on the BBC this morning).
Recently visited the Hotel Grande Bretagne – http://www.grandebretagne.gr/ – below is our review for our events clients! For more detail on the review, follow me on Twitter (weblet71)
If you’re planning a trip to Athens for business or pleasure this hotel is delightful. It’s located right opposite the Government Headquarters and in the main city square, it is the city’s leading hotel so you can spot the odd (sometimes literally) celebrity or politician hanging around. Jeremy Irons was there just after we left – we don’t think it was personal!
The quality and appearance of the hotel are breathtaking – we looked around the main ballroom and some smaller conference rooms – they are well equipped to handle any type of event and the service is incredible – perfect for events targeted at senior executives. They have a lovely Spa – and yes, we tested out the massage (heavenly), the pool (wet) and the saunas (hot) – it was a challenge but we’re prepared to make sacrifices for these reviews.
This is a 5 Star Hotel – not cheap but worth every penny. I have stayed in quite a few 5 Star hotels over the years, and this is one of the best. The staff were among the friendliest I have ever met at this type of establishment – without exception they were warm and welcoming .
We had breakfast every morning on the roof terrace overlooking the Acropolis – and it never failed (even after a few croissant) to look amazing. We had dinner in the restaurant one evening and at night it was lit up and you had a real sense of what it would have been like centuries before.
Athens itself was highly interesting – we did the dutiful thing, as we were only there for a few days, and stuck to the main attractions. Zeus’s temple and the Acropolis were, as expected, spine tingling – but then I am a bit of history/architecture geek. I loved the narrow streets and the piles of traditional tavernas squeezed into the many squares – alongside more modern bars and restaurants.
We had dinner at one taverna (Taverna Acropolis – how original) and had an incredible starter (me: Moussaka, JGC: cheese flan thing) and a mediocre main (kebabs and rice) combined with some jolly lovely Greek Dancing – watch out Mr Flatley.
In summary: I can’t possibly do this place justice – setting out I expected a standard 5 star hotel but this exceeded every expectation. Lovely, lovely people (have I said that enough) and extremely high quality facilities make an unforgettable combination – and even for a short break we felt rejuvinated.
Have you been there? Add your comments below….