The September edition of my Effective Website column is online at the Multichannel Merchant site.
This month's column focuses on aligning print and web to provide a seamless customer experience. The article talks about cross-channel optimization that goes beyond the obvious (but critical) endpoints of visual brand and fulfillment, and offers insights from Kevin Churchill of Patagonia and Glenn Edelman of Wine Enthusiast.
In the online retail community, when we talk about aligning our site with our other channels, we're often focused on the extremes of creative and fulfillment. These emphases are necessary but not sufficient.
At one extreme we strive to present a unified visual brand. We understand that in a world where attention is scarce and first impressions matter, our Websites and catalogs need to look like they were created by the same hands. And the focus on smoothing fulfillment processes across channels is equally sane: Customers are no more forgiving of a botched order placed online than one mishandled by phone.
Despite this necessary focus on the endpoints, there's real meat sandwiched in the middle, where your customer actually spends time interacting with your catalog and Website. Because understanding the cross-channel experience requires research and direct observation, this work can be resource intensive, but it can also yield high return.