The next digital transformation in retail is here

Tech stacks built for omnichannel experiences

There is no denying the long-term benefit of delivering an omnichannel marketing experience.

It is what experts have long been calling a marketing flywheel, but to the extreme. Omnichannel marketing is how brands build customer experience strategies that improve acquisition, build loyalty, and drive retention, and reviews.

It’s exactly what brands like Graza, Sanzo, and Thirteen Lune have been able to do––build community and leave an impact on every channel they touch. This is hard to replicate, and especially so if you are using legacy marketing tools.

That’s because omnichannel’s evolution and progress has happened quickly, and not all technologies kept pace with that change.

What was table stakes for omnichannel technologies even just a couple years ago is no longer so. The needs and aspirations of the omnichannel shopper have simply evolved far too fast––especially during the global pandemic––and what was once table stakes is now traditional and restrictive.

What was table stakes for omnichannel technologies even just a couple years ago is no longer so.

For larger retail organizations built on legacy tech stacks, this means missing out not only on the newest marketing channels, but on the newest marketing strategies aimed at connecting with an always on, and everywhere consumer.

For the most part, those strategies are built around scalable personalization that uses constantly collected first- and zero-party data to segment customers and prospects based on similar traits and habits.

Then, to implement, marketing teams use dynamic content within those segments, creating what feels like a 1:1 personalization, but what is really a 1:many effort for the marketer. This is what makes omnichannel personalization scalable.

This type of personalization is being used in sign up forms, email marketing, SMS marketing, on landing pages, and more. But your team can’t act on this new model because the average mid-market retailer’s tech stack is broken.

This leaves mid-market organizations between a rock and a hard place––especially as the global economy tightens and retailers look for ways to save.

These organizations often rely on custom builds or legacy technology which require up-keep expenses, high-levels of developer management, and in-depth training for marketing teams. Occasionally, a single-point solution can make it through procurement, but data doesn’t seamlessly integrate across legacy and newer tools, and single-point solutions often over-attribute the tool’s impact, anyway.

This leaves mid-market organizations between a rock and a hard place––especially as the global economy tightens and retailers look for ways to save money and maintain the bottom line.

Omnichannel solutions provide personalized, higher-converting and more loyalty-driving experiences, but the tools to create them are not the legacy systems mid-market retailers currently have in place.

The digital transformation of the last decade may have been about the move from on-premise to cloud and SaaS technologies, but the next era is here––and it’s about holistic experiences that require not just the collection of accurate customer data, but the activation of it, too.

The digital transformation of the last decade may have been about the move from on-premise to cloud and SaaS technologies, but the next era is here.

You’ll need an integrated tech stack with a unified customer platform at its center. In the best case, this is a single tool rather than a handful of them, which then require syncing, coordination, risking data inaccuracy, and often come with a higher price tag to boot.

From a customer point of view, this integrated tech stack provides omnichannel experiences across a brand’s entire ecosystem that feel connected and seamless in delivery and capability.

That’s the thesis, at least, and we’re ready to back it up.

Dive into the sections on the left hand side for more research and in-depth analysis on the ever-changing omnichannel customer journey, and the integrated tech stack that best powers it for leading retailers.

About the author

Kunle Campbell is the co-founder at Octillion Capital Partners, an acquisition platform company liberating commerce founders with hassle-free exits. He is also an ecommerce advisor, international speaker and host of the 2X eCommerce Podcast, targeting mid-market retailers. Kunle has interviewed more than 300 retail executives. You can find and follow him on Twitter, here. 

Today’s omnichannel shopper

Who is the quintessential omnichannel shopper today? Fundamentally, this is a person who shops across multiple channels––and, critically, does so with ease.

Unlike shoppers just a few years ago who might have switched between a few channels at most and only on rare occasions, channel-savvy shoppers today are able to seamlessly switch channels, and do so often.

Channel-hopping is the key attribute of omnichannel shoppers.

 

Channel-hopping is the key attribute of omnichannel shoppers.

They are not fazed by switching between, say, a personalized offer on a retail website coupled with a push notification via their browser or app, followed by an email update prompting them to make a local in-store pick-up. Once in-store, they may browse an interactive catalog to make further purchases.

This is a visual of how omnichannel shoppers shop––across 10 different channels in this specific example.

A Forbes article noted this trend in late 2021, stating, “The average consumer is no longer using only two touch points per purchase; it has now tripled to six.”

McKinsey puts it even more starkly by declaring, “Omnichannel is now a ten-channel world. Five years ago, being omnichannel meant offering four or five channels. Now our data shows that customers want—and expect—to engage seamlessly across ten or more.”

“Omnichannel is now a ten-channel world. Five years ago, being omnichannel meant offering four or five channels. Now our data shows that customers want—and expect—to engage seamlessly across ten or more.”

 

Again, these shoppers channel-switch with ease and with the expectation that many channel options are open to them at all times of the day. For these shoppers, this channel-switching translates to the freedom of choice in how to order and receive their purchases, not just quicker but also more conveniently.

Another attribute of today’s omnichannel shopper is that they know how to shop and have the means to do so. This is backed up by studies estimating that shoppers who interact with multiple channels are likely to spend 18 to 36% more than single-channel shoppers.

That is a significant difference in purchasing power that any omnichannel marketer must capitalize on. To do so, these marketers need to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. And the urgency to create this experience is only on the rise.

Omnichannel shopping is here to stay

What was the number one trend that emerged from a September 2021 survey of over 7,000 retailers regarding shopping trends in the United States?

In the report’s own words: “The future of shopping is omnichannel shopping.”

Now, more than 2.14B people worldwide ––roughly 30% of the global population––are shopping online, according to a survey undertaken by Forrester Consulting for Shopify.

And while those ecommerce numbers are impressive, there is an interesting twist to the omnichannel evolution that not many pundits predicted a few years back. It has to do with the continued popularity of brick and mortar shopping, which is seeing an upsurge of popularity, and not just since the end of the pandemic.

Younger shoppers were not as against brick and mortar shopping as many marketers and retail analysts assumed.

 

A Forbes article cautioned against the predicted “inevitable collapse” of physical stores early in 2020, arguing, for example, that younger shoppers were not as against brick and mortar shopping as many marketers and retail analysts assumed.

So, what happened to halt and even reverse this “inevitable collapse?”

Post-pandemic, there is one big reason why physical stores are seeing an uptick in traffic: After months of mandatory lock-downs and social distancing due to coronavirus, many customers realized they missed the physical and tactile experience of being inside a shop.

Even Shopify noted this shift in late 2021, stating, “Consumers are hungry for in-person shopping experiences and the camaraderie that comes with them.”

“Consumers are hungry for in-person shopping experiences and the camaraderie that comes with them.”

 

Still prior to the pandemic, there was an error in thinking in the retail industry. Ecommerce and brick and mortar stores are not independent of one another, as has often been touted. They are complimentary channels in an omnichannel environment, rather than silo-ed channels in a multi-channel environment.

This difference is important, and is based on consumer behavior rather than how retailers might prefer to internally structure teams.

And today, the pressure on retailers for holistic omnichannel experiences is indeed a customer-driven one, based on shoppers’ preferences and the die-hard habits they have developed throughout the omnichannel retail evolution.

Just look, for example, at the Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) or click-and-collect option for shoppers.

Business Insider reported in May 2021 that shoppers in the U.S. spent $72.46B on click-and-collect purchases in 2020, an astounding 106.9% growth rate compared to 2019.

Yes, 2020 was the height of the pandemic, but signs in 2022 point to people continuing to opt for click-and-collect, which pushes more and more people back into the physical store. Business Insider predicts that click-and-collect will grow in the U.S. from 143.8M people in 2020 to over 160M in 2024.

The channel-agnostic shopper, and how they alter your internal team structure

The word ‘agnostic’ traditionally has a religious connotation. In a non-religious context, the word refers to someone having a doubtful or non-committal attitude toward a given thing or issue.

In reference to omnichannel marketing, channel-agnostic refers to a shopper who is simply not biased to any one channel or type of shopping experience. Instead, their focus is on the shopping experience itself, no matter what the particular channel or channels to attain that experience might be.

With the channel-agnostic, the emphasis is on a positive customer journey––nothing more and nothing less.

 

To no surprise, these customers don’t actually care too much about which specific channels they use to engage with your brand and products. With the channel-agnostic, the emphasis is on a positive customer journey––nothing more and nothing less.

While the channel-agnostic shopper is a subset of the omnichannel shopper, there is one big difference between these two groups: the channel-agnostic demands more of the retailer and marketer. This is because if channel differentiation is entirely unimportant, then all channels should offer the user the same, seamless experience or buying journey.

For the channel-agnostic, channels can be both funnels to more information––more in line with traditional marketing funnels––or an entire buyer’s journey itself––completely eliminating the use of any other channel. Creating channel-specific experiences that tell a brand’s entire story and offer top of funnel through to bottom of funnel experiences is not how most marketers, their teams, or their tools are set up to work.

How can brands and marketers, then, match the expectations of the channel-agnostic shopper? A few ways:

  • Focus on the entire customer journey as a holistic experience: Think of your customer experience like a neighborhood. If someone wants to go into one house and only experience what is there––that is their right, and they will have a holistic neighborhood experience there, even if they never venture out. Build the inside of that house as part of the overall experience, and enough to sustain someone even if they see nothing else.
  • View individual channels as part of a collective whole: This is your omnichannel hive, or your entire neighborhood. Each house is a channel. It functions both on its own, but adds value to the overall neighborhood experience. Together, all houses, and all channels, add up to an overall experience that encourages––or not––community, loyalty, purchasing, and more.
  • Realize definitively that customers who are channel-agnostic do not have channel preferences, including how or where they make purchases, as well as interactions with your brand or products. This means that consumers don’t care if they are buying your product in Target or on Amazon or on your website. All that matters is if you are or are not on the shelf, or have or don’t have that website. Legacy brands historically opted out of selling online, for instance. Direct-to-consumer brands opted out of selling wholesale. Today, everyone must be everywhere, and do it all. There is no opting out of a channel in which a purchase could happen.
  • Ensure that marketing competencies focus on all channels, rather than having ‘specialized’ marketing strategies and marketing professionals for specific channels. Lean marketing teams are often built best with experienced marketing generalists who can strategize on a holistic customer experience. Need expertise in a specific area? Hire a consultant to help.
  • Explore and invest in a tech stack that enables greater seamlessness between channels: For most mid-market retailers, this will mean tech stack consolidation. You need a central source of truth and the ability to build and act on a single customer view (SCV), which we’ll cover more in a moment. There are procurement issues to consider here, as well as platform functionality. Developers and tech teams need strong and capable APIs to customize platforms as the business demands, and marketers need platforms they can use easily and quickly to spin up campaigns and drive revenue.
  • Analyze CX data in order to assess potential weak spots in customer journeys, as well as trends within journeys: Historically, the customer experience has been viewed through a lens of support and quick ticket reconciliation. No longer. Your marketing funnel––all the way down to retention, cross-selling and up-selling––is your customer experience journey. Where is it falling apart? Do you have the data available to answer that question? Even if you do, can you act on that data quickly to test ideas and see if you can close the gap? This is what your omnichannel tech stack should enable.

The challenge of delivering an omnichannel experience

Omnichannel experience delivery has evolved and seen enormous growth and adoption over the past few years. Yet, there are serious challenges that thwart further or sustainable growth.

Marketers and brands alike are discovering that omnichannel experience deployment options can be strategically confusing, with success not always guaranteed.

The failure to capitalize on customer-oriented omnichannel experiences should be a concern to any marketer or brand. There are huge benefits to personalized omnichannel offerings, with customer retention rates as much as 90% higher compared to experiences from a single channel.

It is one thing to say your brand delivers an omnichannel experience, and quite another to actually deliver on that promise.

 

Yet, few brands have recognized such value from their omnichannel experiences, and that is because it is one thing to say your brand delivers an omnichannel experience, and quite another to actually deliver on that promise.

The reality is that most mid-market and enterprise consumer brands struggle to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences at scale. Why? Because their customer tech stack is broken.

Moreover, mid-market retail tech stacks weren’t built for customers, at all. Today’s legacy tech stacks were first built for an era of security, with APIs and other developer-first or IT-first functionality prioritized in the platforms. This has long left marketers behind, as slow-moving departments in their organization, unable to own their success effectively.

This has long left marketers behind, as slow-moving departments in their organization, unable to own their success effectively.

 

More recently, tech solutions have focused on attribution, working to earn more of your company’s investment dollars as they prove their tool can generate the most revenue for your brand.

You saw this happen with Facebook––which was attributing sales made 30+ days after a consumer saw an ad back to their platform. When Facebook was forced to implement a 7-day attribution window, the company saw a $232B revenue loss.

These attribution-first platforms were built for the multi-channel experience, in which marketers needed to figure out which channels were the most important and which to cut. While internal conversations in retail marketing departments may still focus on this, the shopper has evolved, and in many cases has lost faith in retailers who only use one or two channels.

The omnichannel experience builds trust, builds brand, and delivers on experience first for the customer, rather than attribution first for the marketer.

What is the first step in building that high-quality omnichannel experience? Personalization.

Research in 2021 found that customers have veered away from their previous concerns regarding how and what personal data brands were collecting from them. Now, customers are focused instead on when and how brands are using their collected data in order to present them with offers and promotions that are consistent and relevant to them.

Customers want a CX that speaks directly to them and their shopping needs, every time. In a nutshell, personalization rules. Yet, brands of all sizes have had a difficult time personalizing communications and experiences with consumers on a 1:1 basis and at scale.

63% of digital marketing leaders still struggle with personalization.

 

The findings from a 2021 Gartner survey revealed that as many as 63% of digital marketing leaders still struggle with personalization. This is not helped by the fact that only 17% of marketers use artificial intelligence (AI)I and machine learning (ML) to enhance and boost needed cross-functionalities.

This is even as, according to Gartner, “84% of digital marketing leaders believe using AI/ML enhances the marketing function’s ability to deliver real-time, personalized experiences to customers.”

This is clearly not happening as often as required.

Most brands simply do not have a full grasp and understanding of the entire customer journey due to silo-ed customer data.

 

Most brands simply do not have a full grasp and understanding of the entire customer journey. This is because their customer data is often siloed and fragmented with limited congruence. And, use of single-point solutions has caused over-attribution for newer channels, distorting a team’s understanding of how their marketing funnel functions.

A clear understanding as to why this is happening in most omnichannel experience deliveries is required.

The 6 points of failure to legacy tech stacks

As you can see, your tech stack is at the core of omnichannel planning and customer experience delivery. Yet, that tech stack often doesn’t help marketers build and distribute those experiences.

These breakdowns are due to complex solutions or legacy technologies that are too often expensive, glitchy and costly to maintain and customize, and that often require additional effort and time. Many require months of implementation even for relatively easy marketing campaigns or tactics.

Let’s look at 6 points of failure to typical legacy tech stacks in ecommerce, and how those points of failure affect your marketing team and your bottom line.

Too complex of a solution

Omnichannel solutions, and those built for marketing technology generally, are simply too complex or confusing for marketers a lot of the time.

Studies have shown that as much as 42% of MarTech capabilities are not utilized.

 

This has been borne out by studies that have shown that as much as 42% of MarTech capabilities are not utilized due to the following factors, according to marketing respondents, of which a significant portion relates to the complexity factor:

  • 23% say they buy a lot of solutions but simply cannot use the features
  • 21% say the complexity of their current overall MarTech stack is to blame
  • 26% say this is due to a lack of cross-functional collaboration

High total cost of ownership (TCO)

According to Investopedia, the total cost of ownership (TCO) refers to “the purchase price of an asset plus the costs of operation.” It continues, “Assessing the total cost of ownership represents taking a bigger picture view at what the product is and what its value is over time.”

That big picture can be daunting for digital marketers and their finance departments when assessing the true overall cost of implementing an omnichannel strategy.

These costs are heightened when channel-based solutions are sold as standalone siloed solutions, rather than integrated, cost-saving solutions.

These costs are heightened when channel-based solutions are sold as standalone siloed solutions, rather than integrated, cost-saving solutions.

 

Marketers and tech teams have had to stitch together several different solutions in a ‘hub and spoke’ model. This is made worse when mid-market brands expand their teams without proper tech debt analysis, or acquire other companies and are forced to tie different systems and sources of truth together. Typically, this is done only loosely, and not well. As a result, marketing channels remain siloed.

Not surprisingly, this can create massive overhead for companies due to unnecessary duplications and failing to capitalize on economies of scale. This mish-mash of divergent channels that struggle to be cohesive is what I refer to as a ‘franken-stack,’ as can be seen in the graphic below:

The ecommerce tech stack is broken because it was built for a multi-channel environment rather than an omnichannel one. Customer-centricity is difficult with legacy tech, but omnichannel solutions solve the need for creating omnichannel experiences that don't burn your team out.

As stated at the center of the diagram, the root cause of this expensive and inefficient franken-stack is that the customer stack itself is broken.

Just as many legacy retailers have adopted the direct-to-consumer model for their subsidiary products, they too need to adopt unified customer platform tools that properly collect and store single customer view data and allow marketers to quickly and effectively build experiences based on that data to drive more loyalty and revenue.

Limited data storage and compute capacity

Omnichannel is data-driven to the hilt.

Necessity dictates that servers being used for omnichannel data storage are as generous as possible. Unfortunately, companies are often hobbled by providers that provide inadequate data storage.

Martin Gaffney, the vice-president of the EMEA region for California-based cloud-native solution company Yugabyte, cautions that choosing the wrong software for a modern omnichannel service can be disastrous, citing that lack of adequate data storage and cloud computing capabilities will be the leading cause of this failure in the coming years.

It is precisely because of this data storage ‘crunch’ that brands need to be even more assertive about effectively integrating all channel offerings.

 

It is precisely because of this data storage ‘crunch’ that brands need to be even more assertive about effectively integrating all channel offerings.

Avoiding the hub-and-spoke or ‘franken-stack’ siloed approach to channel offerings results in more efficient use of customer data. This in turn will mean less undue stress on existing data storage and cloud computing options being used for omnichannel management.

Less tech debt reduces OPEX in the immediate, and can reduce CAPEX significantly if you are still using on-premise data storage.

Limited integrations contribute to failed supply chain forecasting

Integration should be everything in the modern omnichannel tech stack.

The reality, however, is that omnichannel solutions continue to be thwarted. This is done by legacy solutions that insist on focusing on a specific channel or limited channels, or by solutions that are inherently unable to connect different channels in a seamless, integrated way that optimizes the omnichannel journey for customers.

The more dire outcome of running omnichannel solutions with limited integrations is the impact on demand forecasting and inventory optimization.

The more dire outcome of running omnichannel solutions with limited integrations is the impact on demand forecasting and inventory optimization.

 

Poorly integrated channels mean that the customer may not always be aware of the most relevant products––or promotions––offered by a brand. Likewise, the brand will also be out of the loop regarding customer preferences due to a lack of integrated customer data, which then results in a lack of inventory or excessive inventory.

Brands are also typically faced with the threat of a demand-supply gap that creates a disconnect between products customers want to purchase on the one hand, and products that are actually in stock on the other.

The greater the gap, the more likely customers experience frustration or disappointment with brands. And, the more likely a brand invests in a product that will sit on shelves, and hurt the bottom line.

Basic data gathering

Data does not always need to be complex. In fact, some of the best data is the simplest.

Omnichannel solutions should get the basics right with the customer data points they collect. It seems absurdly obvious to make this point, even a no-brainer, but too often omnichannel solutions don’t even get that entirely right.

For example, say your brand sells fan gear––like t-shirts, hats and the like. Sometimes, fans buy their own gear, and it is good to know which team someone is a fan of. Sometimes fans buy their friends, who are fans of other teams, gear as gifts, though.

It’s important that your brand understands when someone is buying for themself versus someone else, especially if there are differences in team preference. Otherwise, your customer communications in the future may celebrate a big win with someone who actually just lost.

This is basic data collection, yes, but potentially make-or-break for your brand.

Tools like Google Analytics may get at some of this necessary data on an anonymized level, but often it requires high-levels of planning, coordination and development to pull this kind of data into more legacy CDPs or other omnichannel tech stacks. That required development, then, means the data collection can break, often without a marketer’s knowledge.

No, basic data collection including on-site engagement, purchase history, loyalty program involvement and engagement, product preferences, email and SMS engagement rates and communication channel preferences should all be out-of-the-box functionality for an omnichannel tool––requiring at most the drop of a piece of code on your website.

Think it impossible? We’ll walk through this in a moment.

High latency and lack of real-time data

Cloud computing may have greatly ramped up data speeds, but enormous amounts of customer data from disparate channels can still result in data bottlenecks or latency issues.

High latency can be problematic for brands in that it means real-time data will surely be outdated and, thus, not an actual reflection of crucial real-time factors such as stock availability.

High latency can be problematic for brands in that it means real-time data will surely be outdated.

 

It could also result in the mismatch of valued customers with certain select channel offerings, such as personalized promotions or loyalty program benefits.

What could be more annoying to a long-term customer or new prospect than receiving an urgent offer on their phone to save 40% on botanicals only to realize that the deadline to redeem has already expired, or that they don’t actually qualify.

This happens for retailers more often than they’d like to admit.

The bottom line with legacy tech stacks

Ultimately, the problem with current omnichannel principles is two-fold:

  • Legacy tech is built on expensive and underlying data infrastructure that is limited and not fit for the omnichannel experience and purpose.
  • Point players lack data and, critically, a good understanding of the entire customer journey.

Too often, one sees a mix of both these flawed methodologies, with the same unfortunate outcome: disjointed customer experiences owing to a foundation of expensive integrations that don’t actually enable true cross-channel integrations.

They are also confusing to manage for the marketing team and brand, which slows marketing effectiveness and efficiency in a hyper-competitive retail environment.

The omnichannel marketer’s goldmine: the single customer view

If personalization is the ‘nirvana’ for marketers in today’s omnichannel reality, then having as much congruent information as possible for each customer is paramount.

The single customer view (SCV) should be your dashboard to beat all dashboards: a single dashboard that displays all the personal data for a given customer.

The single customer view (SCV) should be your dashboard to beat all dashboards: a single dashboard that displays all the personal data for a given customer.

 

There is a reason why it is also referred to as the Customer 360 View (C360) or Unified Customer View (UCV) since the dashboard should provide you with a complete snapshot of a customer’s personal details, preferences, purchases, and so forth.

All communications between customers and your brand should be instantly available via the dashboard. So too should all their activities with loyalty programs, and any other touchpoint in your marketing tech stack that enables a better understanding of their shopping habits and overall shopper profile.

The sheer scale and scope of this insight into a customer can be seen below:

 

This is a visual of all the types of data that a single customer profile should include. It includes zero-party data and first-party data.

Courtesy: APAC CIO Outlook

There is a reason why SCV is considered the ‘holy grail’ for digital marketers and brand leaders. It paints an exacting, multi-faceted portrait of the customer and, importantly, how they tend to behave. SCV speaks precisely to personalization since it offers a 1:1 connection between brand and customer.

SCV further allows for more effective and customer-relevant segmentation based on key factors including collected first and zero-party data like:

  • Lifetime purchase history and predicted CLV
  • Communication channel subscription (email, SMS, etc) and engagement on those channels
  • On-site activity, and the UTMs that drove that activity
  • Geographic location
  • Product preferences
  • History of enrollment and engagement in customer communication flows and automations
  • Enrollment in loyalty programs, and specified tiers
  • Individual birthday and the anniversary of first purchase with the brand
  • Product reviews and any collected UGC
  • Preferential data collected through surveys or quizzes

Importantly, SCV helps marketers make sense of the overwhelming amount of personal data about a customer that has been amassed from any omnichannel undertaking.

So, what’s happening that brands don’t have access to their view, or if they do that they can’t act upon its insights?

The broken single customer view in most omnichannel tech stacks

It may seem extreme to declare the single customer view (SCV) as “broken” but in many ways it is.

Brands continue to struggle to fully understand their customers within genuinely holistic, 1-on-1 relationships, despite data about that customer streaming in from across various channels, applications and different segments of their customer journey.

So, while the data may exist within tech stacks, rarely is it presented in a clear, concise and actionable way for marketers working within that omnichannel tech stack.

This is a visual of how Klaviyo's CDP pulls your customer data into a single customer view for you to create omnichannel experiences off of.

A view of Klaviyo’s single customer view, with data streaming in from point-and-click integrations in real-time, as well as website engagement information and segment automation logic.

Here are the three reasons often cited by data experts for this breakdown in an SCV strategy:

  • Poor data quality: Not all data is equal. A lack of clear focus on personalized omnichannel experiences means that marketing teams may not have access to customer information that is specific and easily prioritized. Not all tools collect and store data in a way that a marketer can clearly understand, and build plans off of. Many tools overwrite data overtime, and many marketers fail to understand the ways in which data flows into their tools and systems, creating confusion about the best path forward.
  • A siloed multi-channel strategy: Many marketing teams will have biases toward certain channels, even if not expressly so. This is especially prevalent where the skills sets within marketing teams are predominantly within certain channels, such as with email funnels or paid social media marketing. The result is other channels being undervalued and a lack of integrated, seamless channel offerings for customers. Legacy tools often encourage this, since they have been built for multi-channel attribution, rather than holistic omnichannel attribution.
  • Unconnected technologies: As omnichannel marketing matures and evolves, so too will the proliferation and sophistication of the technologies that power it. This can be understandably overwhelming for marketers who may not be tech-savvy, struggle to keep abreast of technological advances, or use far too many tools rather than a unified system.

Learn about Klaviyo’s cooperative attribution model, one of the industry’s most conservative

The cooperative last touch model is an evolution of last touch attribution that takes two or more channels into account. These channels are often used synchronistically by the marketer and are generated from the same marketing technology tool. This is a useful model when different channels have different attribution windows and a marketer wants to make sure the activity that actually inspired the purchase is the one that gets the credit, regardless of which happened first.

Learn more about the different marketing attribution models and metrics, here.

A reimagined, enterprise omnichannel tech stack

Let’s look at what is really needed for omnichannel experience delivery today, which is an integrated tech stack with a unified customer platform at its center.

This should complete the direct-to-consumer tech stack by combining ecommerce infrastructure with customer infrastructure across both digital and physical touchpoints.

An omnichannel tech stack marketing teams want to use

A customer-first tech stack must be the focus of marketing teams serious about delivering and optimizing omnichannel experiences.

Your solution of choice should enable enterprise-grade personalization that scales and optimizes, easily allowing your marketing team to build unparalleled omnichannel customer experiences without overwhelming your team with unending 1:1 personalization tasks.

Easily allow your marketing team to build unparalleled omnichannel customer experiences without overwhelming your team with unending 1:1 personalization tasks.

 

To do this, data integration and implementation is vital. The chosen solution needs to help your marketers validate data integrity and performance, and offer pre-built and tested integrations that can quickly pass procurement and don’t add weeks of development work to the project.

Finally, your marketing team needs fast and accessible speed of execution. They require a solution that can ingest millions of transactional data points in minutes with a marketer-friendly user interface. This means the team should be able to easily query data in real-time to be used in effective segmentation and automation of personalized communication with customers.

Scalable personalization via segmentation & dynamic blocks

Personalization in omnichannel marketing today is everything. Your customer needs to be front and center. It is not the channels that count, but the customer and their experience. Everything flows from that.

Your marketing team then needs a tech stack that helps them build, and automate personalized experiences that increase engagement and, together, create an omnichannel CX.

In tandem, your solution needs to be able to scale repeat purchases from those customers already acquired by putting the customer journey on autopilot with flexible and extensible automated flows.

These should be organic and constantly evolving. Who wants to go on the same journey each time?

These personalized, autopilot flows are built using powerful customer segmentation based on their single customer view data and dynamic content blocks.

 

These personalized, autopilot flows are built using powerful customer segmentation based on their single customer view data and dynamic content blocks.

This allows your marketers to create 1:many personalized automations that present as 1:1 experiences for the customer. For example, Klaviyo offers an open-source tagging scheme––named Django––for dynamic content personalization across the majority of data in your SCV.

This is a visual of how to create segments within Klaviyo. This is one of Klaviyo's most powerful features and is the way the most successful brands build ecommerce personalization. They use segments like what is featured here, combined with dynamic content blocks within emails and SMS messages to create what feels like a 1:1 personalized experience, even though it was created as a 1:many on the backend.

With segmentation and dynamic content blocks, your autopilot programs should:

  • Offer personalized product recommendations based on machine learning (ML) that can show the right product at the right time to a given customer.
  • Continuously collect additional zero-party data via surveys and quizzes that are added to the SCV, and can be used to create even more personalized segments and automations.

 

This is enterprise-grade and enterprise-wide personalization that works and builds experiences at scale, based on a customizable and reliable platform rooted in a fast and proprietary data query engine. This means your teams can cease having to cobble together platforms in an ad-hoc, chaotic way that fails to deliver marketing opportunities for segmentation, personalization, and optimization.

Infrastructure that balances data collection & speed to market

Integration is the nexus between your ecommerce tech stack infrastructure and the entirety of all customer data that your channels accrue. As such, your omnichannel database needs to possess the following:

  • Unlimited data storage and retention
  • Unstructured data storage
  • Native integrations that work and are easy to set up and test
  • Cross-channel identity resolution
  • Deep and fast segmentation
  • Single customer view data storage allowing easy segmentation with zero configuration required, built to scale
  • The ability to ingest all types of customer data––such as demographic, behavioral, buyer preferences, etc.––from any source

A platform should also deliver real-time data that can be queried in seconds, so that automations can be triggered almost immediately. For example, Klaviyo’s query engine can query real-time data in less than 10 milliseconds, which can then be used in segmentation and automation.

To do all of this, a tech tool needs to have built a unified, customer-focused, and interrelated database. Below, you can see Klaviyo’s:

This is a visual of an omnichannel tech stack. It is specifically Klaviyo's tech stack, in which there is the database where customer data is store, the learning base in which artificial intelligence and machine learning make predictions for Klaviyo customers based on their customer data, and the experiences layer in which ecommerce marketers build omnichannel customer experiences.

APIs for customization as you grow and expand

Hundreds of direct integrations are built-in to modern omnichannel tech tools, but APIs allow your team to integrate with anything you want, so that the tech can get out of the way as you build the customer experiences necessary to succeed.

Klaviyo’s open APIs, for example, give your team the flexibility to integrate with just about any system that exports data. Customization is also a key offering, including:

  • Custom triggers: Customize the form code to trigger forms using custom buttons or actions.
  • Custom catalog: Leverage personalized product recommendations by syncing your custom catalog to Klaviyo.
  • Custom event tracking: Define any activity and track it within Klaviyo. Use these events to trigger messages through flows or for custom reporting

The ecommerce tech stack has evolved, and modern enterprise brands need ecommerce CDPs as well as reporting, insights, attribution and optimization, data science and so much more move quickly, beat out the competition, and deliver unparalleled and omnichannel customer experiences.

The result is a modern ecommerce customer infrastructure dichotomy that is in sync with industry best practices, but that allows you to build unlimited, customized experiences however you want.

Always secure and compliant with industry standards

Security is of course critically important for this type of complex infrastructure.

Modern omnichannel tools offer industry-leading 3rd party audit certifications, such as SOC2, which is a voluntary compliance standard for service organizations, as developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

These companies are also benchmarked against ISO 27001, the leading international management system standard on how to manage information security.

Klaviyo, in particular, is also a member of industry trade associations for both email and SMS responsible for self regulating the space.

A foundation for omnichannel now, and whatever comes next

Unsurprisingly, your database needs to include the very best in current and evolving smart technologies, otherwise it is destined to become one of the legacy solutions mentioned above, with all the same issues.

Klaviyo is one such modern omnichannel tech tool, and the company has built up a team of more than 40 data scientists who have woven true AI and ML throughout the platform based on the largest ecommerce and retail-focused data set of which I am aware.

Features within the platform that use this AI and ML are:

  • Automated A/B/n testing
  • When to send your message
  • Peer benchmarking
  • Churn and lifetime value (LTV) predictions

Here are a few other attributes of the Klaviyo omnichannel platform:

  • Built on a modern schema-less database, thereby requiring zero configuration
  • Built for high performance and massive scale, e.g. billions of data points are created per day that can be processed with ultra-low-latency
  • Built to support streaming data that trigger segmentation and automations in real-time

APIs are an important part of any omnichannel tech stack – and this visualization shows how Klaviyo ingests data via APIs, stores it, and then offers up a query engine for marketers to easily activate that data into experiences for the customer.

How to lower total cost of ownership before it’s too late

All of this sounds great, but price tags stop many organizations in their tracks. It isn’t just the cost of the platform itself, but also the cost of migration, any down time, and more.

Indeed, total cost of ownership continues to be one of the leading hurdles to omnichannel optimization.

Indeed, total cost of ownership continues to be one of the leading hurdles to omnichannel optimization.

 

The rising costs of omnichannel experience technologies, in particular due to the escalating costs of digital channels, mean that brands need to make every effort to ensure their TCO is lowered.

Digital transformation, including Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), Customer Data Platform (CDP), and the implementation of new channels, all require investment, which include their implementation, applicable licensing, training and utilization costs. These costs can sometimes surpass six figures.

The way to lower these costs is to invest in a smart, customized omnichannel platform––and consolidate your tech stack where you can.

Pitfalls to look for when demoing new solutions

Your chosen platform needs to add value from day one, and should be fast to set-up, implement, and generate revenue.

What you don’t want is any omnichannel option that has the following:

  • Having to buy before trying it out: Look out for trials or ask a rep after a customized demo to set up an account you and your team can use to look around for at least two weeks.
  • Long term contractual lock-ins: You don’t want to update your tech stack every year, but very long-term contractual lock-ins can signify a company’s lack of innovation for the future, and you don’t want to be stuck.
  • Limited data storage: You want just as much or more than you have now on your existing systems.
  • Lack of APIs or a limited number of API calls: Have your development team work with thee to test their true capabilities, or ask for same-size company referrals and do your due diligence with those teams.
  • Complex integrations: Have both your marketing team and your development team test out integration possibilities, quality and speed before buying.
  • Clunky software: Have you marketing team test out this tool before buying.
  • Stagnating returns: Ask for same-size customer referrals and do your due diligence here.

Instead, look for tools that allow you to:

  • Test the tool with your own data before having to purchase and commit
  • Benefit from flexible and transparent pricing
  • Build custom integrations with open APIs
  • Not be caught by unexpected data limits
  • Drive a multi-channel marketing experience built on a unified platform that can address both omnichannel shoppers and the channel-agnostic ones.

Look, too, at ease of use in every platform you demo––and ask for trial runs where you can so that your larger team can test it out. Many enterprise platforms lack clear UX, stalling marketing and sales teams, and causing bureaucratic complexity.

In the end, as with so much in business, it’s all about making the right choice.

Now is the time to modernize and consolidate your tech stack into something that enables omnichannel customer experiences at scale.

 

For your omnichannel strategy and operational needs, now is the time to modernize and consolidate your tech stack into something that enables omnichannel customer experiences at scale. That is the future of retail, and one of the best ways to empower your marketing team to succeed.

They need a platform that can personalize communications with your customers at scale, easily acquire new ones, and, of paramount importance, use your owned data to drive revenue across all channels.

About Klaviyo

Klaviyo is a world-leading marketing automation platform dedicated to accelerating revenue and customer connection for online businesses. Klaviyo makes it easy to store, access, analyze and use transactional and behavioral data to power highly-targeted customer and prospect communications. The company’s hybrid customer-data and marketing-platform model allows companies to grow by fostering direct relationships with customers, without giving up their valuable data to popular big-tech ad platforms. Over 265,000 innovative companies like Unilever, Custom Ink, Living Proof and Huckberry sell more with Klaviyo. Learn more at www.klaviyo.com