#RetailEXPO19: Brands need to go to organisational basics in an omni-channel experience

Brands are still failing to create a consistent omni-channel experience for consumers - and it's not only damaging sales, it's also destroying trust and lowering future expectations. This is the damning verdict of Kevin MacArthur, creative director, Smyths Toys Superstores.

Speaking at Retail Expo 2019, MacArthur recalls how a promotion for a product he'd recently seen online was not running in the store he later went to expecting to buy it. Even when they did realise a promotion was live, it then had a different price to what he'd previously seen.

Worse still, when MacArthur phoned customer services, he was then told he couldn't be helped any further, because the call centre didn't have access to the information he required.

"Alas, this is not uncommon," he says. "But inconsistency like this across the channels merely creates mistrust, and it reflects poorly on the brand."

The solution, he argues, was to go back to organisational basics, and adopt structures and policies that create consistency "from the inside out". This meant devising cross-functional teams, more agile working styles ["that allow decisions to be made faster, and without having to go up multiple levels of command"], and most importantly of all, he argues, having an "organisation-wide approach to openness and transparency."

Speaking to delegates he says: "It's only by establishing cross-functional teams that you create consistent cross channel experiences. This is because you have people involved at the start of the process that are taking decisions for the good of each channel."

MacArthur credits the creation of cross-functional teams in his own organisation as being responsible for ensuring its recent acquisition of Toys R Us (central Europe), was taking a consistent channel approach. 

"In setting up such teams, the biggest challenge is always removing egos, but the more people you bring together, the better it is for all concerned," he advises. "Smaller team leads are particularly vital in the process - they're the ones who need to tell those higher up in the organisation what needs to be done."

Get all this right though, and he says the benefits will be massive. "Consistency improves experience, and experience creates better expectations.”

He concludes: "With greater experience, the efficiency and pleasure of buying is enhanced too."