Cultivating a company culture that embraces omnichannel strategy

by | Mar 14, 2017

We talk about omnichannel strategy quite a bit on the SPS Commerce blog, and how it’s a great experience for consumers. They expect a consistent experience whenever they interact with your brand: in the store, on the website or e-commerce site, with the mobile app, and through packaging.

But making the necessary changes within an organization to accomplish that streamlined, unified experience can be a big task. We recently wrote about some of the factors that have to be in place for a company to build their omnichannel strategy for success: executive buy-in, performing a landscape analysis, creating a single marketing message, and choosing between an in-house, outsourced or hybrid system.

However you approach change, one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of omnichannel success is the people who carry out the day-to-day business. This takes a bigger commitment than just hiring a couple digital retail web developers to create a flashy website.

Training your staff and re-evaluating how you manage people and processes are important for creating a culture in your company that embraces omnichannel strategy and the technology that accompanies it.

Recently, SPS Commerce and Retail Systems Research (RSR) released the results of our fifth annual survey of more than 500 retailers, suppliers, distributors and logistics firms to understand their outlook and strategic focus for the coming year. When we asked these companies what they considered to be their three top competitive advantages in this omnichannel world, “a strong internal culture” consistently ranked high among the top retail performers. When your staff are all on the same page, working towards a cooperative goal, the effort can pay off dividends.

How to encourage a company culture that embraces change, technology

The following are some things to consider to help your company embrace a shift towards embracing technology and the consumer era.

Paint a picture. Whenever you’ve made other big changes, you probably had a vision that you wanted to achieve and shared it with your employees. The same thing applies to embracing a more technologically savvy omnichannel culture. Make sure that people understand where you’re going and what you’re trying to achieve. Where is the North Star for your business and service objectives? You have to be able to clearly communicate where you are and where you need to be when your initiative is in place.

Drive home the value. Why is your omnichannel strategy important to your company? Show your colleagues and employees, particularly technologists, where the connection is between their work and the goals of the project. The better you can get people to understanding the value of your efforts, the closer you’ll get to creating a company culture that embraces omnichannel and digital tech in your company.

Create milestones. When a company has had a standard way of operating for decades, switching gears to compete in the modern digital landscape can seem like a huge project. That’s where instrumentalism can be extraordinary for accomplishing your goals; you don’t want people to feel like they’re biting off more than they can chew. What can you accomplish in short sprints that will help your overall, big-picture strategy? You need to create short-term wins for your teams to accomplish in order to get to the long-term objectives. Undertaking small wins will help keep you on the right path. Celebrate each milestone as they are completed, and over time you’ll reach the final goalpost.

Update your processes. It’s hard to embrace new operations and technologies when your employees are stuck with old and outdated processes. With new capabilities and priorities, your processes should be changing and adjusting as well. That’s especially true if your old processes aren’t aligned with what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’ve automated your EDI to intake purchase orders and invoices, it doesn’t make sense to have someone compare all of them manually. Operationalize the process to make sure the appropriate fields on invoices and POs match, and have that person only address the ones that didn’t match up.

Encourage curiosity and new ways of thinking. I’m not one for censorship, but there’s one phrase I absolutely can’t stand to hear: “We’ve always done it this way.” Evolution is the name of the game and no company can afford such attitudes that are resistant to change. Encourage employees to rethink about how they can do their work better, faster and more efficiently. And let them know that it’s OK to fail when we try new things, as long as something is learned in the process so that the next idea is more successful. That’s how more effective solutions are discovered. If you don’t fail a few times, it either means you’re not taking big enough risks or you’re not trying at all.

Get everyone involved. Bringing a company into the digital era can be done, but part of the process depends on having people to lead the charge, and cheerleaders to maintain motivation and encourage everyone to get involved. It’s one thing to have that strategy in place, but it’s another for your company culture to fully embrace omnichannel strategy and it’s importance to your company’s future. If employees are nervous or unwilling to change their ways from the old methods, it could prevent the whole company from moving forward quickly. An effective digital/tech culture doesn’t happen without intervention from its C-level executives to cultivate a company-wide appreciation for it. From the CEO to the CIO to the IT techs and customer service reps, everyone plays a role in making your omnichannel efforts a success.

As you roll out your omnichannel strategy, its good to remind everyone continually that it’s all about the consumer. If your company doesn’t meet their expectations, a competitor will. As a team, your organization can excel and delight its customers, but not if nothing changes. Keeping an eye on the customer and how your omnichannel initiative is tailored to them will keep everyone focused on the goal. After all, we are all consumers with growing expectations.

Would you like to learn more about the results of Retail Insights 2016: Moving Beyond Omnichannel, our fifth annual retail industry survey? Download the complimentary research report to see how your 2017 plans compare with your competitors and peers.

We can help you find those new ways of doing things, as you embrace your new tech and digital culture. To learn more about SPS Commerce’s omnichannel successes and solutions for retailers, vendors, and even 3PLs, please visit the SPS website and request additional information.

 

Brian Ruud

Brian Ruud

Manager, Integration Center of Excellence at SPS Commerce
Brian Ruud is currently the Manager of the Integration Center of Excellence at SPS Commerce. Brian graduated with his MBA from Hamline University in 2011 and has been in a management role at SPS Commerce for 5 years. Brian's area of expertise lies within retail, specifically EDI, fulfillment, onboarding/testing, change management and compliance. Brian's team is responsible for providing guidance, direction and education for all change management events that impact SPS integrated customers (Suppliers, Retailers, and 3PL Providers).
Brian Ruud

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Embracing Omnichannel Strategy in Your Company Culture - Stitch Labs - […] This post originally appeared on SPS Commerce’s blog.  […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Did you like what you read? Get updates like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Subscribe to our blog to receive weekly retail and supply chain news, valuable resources, expert tips and more.