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How to create the perfect omnichannel strategy part 3

A multidisciplinary creative process, validation by testing and iteration are crucial to optimisation that delivers results.

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An omnichannel strategy that looks good on paper is far from perfect. OK a strategy that’s backed by structured insight, prioritises the biggest opportunities and is realistic represents a giant leap in the right direction.

But perfection comes with the final step – delivering real, tangible developments and expected, measurable benefits. And that is about taking the strategy off the paper and into the real world – a step to be approached with caution.

That is, it’s easy to get derailed by the idea that ideation and development processes should be a case of unfettered creativity, free from constraints of any kind. This could not be further from the truth.

The real key to getting this phase right is structure and an obsession with testing and validation. That and an ability to bring together multidisciplinary teams, in which UX, creative, content, design and testing specialists work side by side throughout the development phase.

Add structure and focus by surround the team with assets to guide their thinking. That should include a map of the omnichannel journey with pain points to be addressed clearly highlighted, problem statements to remind everyone what the key objectives are, and competitor examples for inspiration.

But even then, it’s important to avoid trying to do too much too soon. Start small, for instance with initial sketches of possible solutions. These small beginnings can be gradually built up and refined, to ensure higher fidelity iterations are arrived at not in isolation, but drawing on cycles of feedback from UX, design and content.

The next phase is arguably the most important – taking those ideas off the paper, to test and iterate real solutions. Again, the key is to start small. Begin with minimum viability prototypes, remembering that whatever the creative content or functionality, there is a way to test – with real users.

That could include, for instance, recruiting sample customers into the lab for cross-device experience testing, or taking them to store to visualise a journey with new cross-channel inputs.

Their feedback is crucial, so pay close attention to things like usability barriers, missed needs, user (customer or employee) opinions or responses and take key learnings back to creative iteration.

Depending on budget, the whole process should go through this cycle of testing, iteration and validation two or three times, always making sure to follow-up on previous issues and ensure they have been resolved.

It is this structure, testing and validation – as much as skill and inspiration – that is so important to delivering the perfect omnichannel strategy. That is, a strategy that not only looks good on paper, but one that delivers where it matters – in smoothing the customer experience and improving sales performance.

But, even then, the job is not quite done. Measurement is the final step and should be based on clear, focused metrics to track relevant data surrounding the optimised experience – that’s data from site analytics, in-store analytics, CRM and so on.

Again, focus is important. It’s vital to think carefully about which are the right data sources and which metrics are best placed to measure behaviours and KPIs in keeping with the original problem statement.

This isn’t just about making sure a solution delivers at the top level. It’s about understanding why it delivers and ensuring that insight can inform future optimisation work – creating a positive feedback loop between strategy and optimisation to ensure both get better and better over time.

This post is based on 6 Stages of Omnichannel Success, a detailed guide to developing an evidence-driven, proven and validated omnichannel optimisation solution, which you can read here.