Why the Nordstrom Omnichannel strategy won’t work for you

In a previous article, Omnichannel is Dead; Long live the Omnichannel, I shared my view that an effective Omnichannel strategy should focus on the complete customer experience, not on individual technologies and channels that contribute to that experience.

Recently, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review that offered an insightful take on this topic. The article, Why Nordstrom’s Digital Strategy Works (and Yours Probably Doesn’t), contained two comments that really caught my attention:


[Nordstrom] have not only introduced new channels, but they have integrated them in ways that empower employees and customers. Nordstrom hasn’t used SMACIT [social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and Internet of Things] to develop a digital business model – they have further digitized their business model, and pursued their purpose, using SMACIT.”

Two things stand out to me here. One: adding channels that have deep penetration is the key requirement towards becoming Omnichannel. Two: adding channels is only half of the battle. Remember, Omnichannel is made up of two words, “omni” – as in all, complete, integrated – and “channel”. Here’s the point – unless channels are integrated, companies cannot become Omnichannel.

Now, back to the article:

“Most retailers will struggle to do this because they haven’t architected their product or customer data for easy access by the new digital capabilities. They will end up with a bunch of clever but isolated SMACIT applications, attempting to compete with companies who own an innovation engine that constantly raises the bar for delighting customers.”

This is quite an interesting insight for retailers. For a long time, all multiple interaction channels like web, mobile, stores, kiosks, etc. have worked in silos. Each interaction channel had its own business unit focusing on its own growth. Supporting technology produced enormous amounts of data that was specifically structured toward improving the experience for each individual channel.

When the focus shifts towards blurring the lines between channels, data’s focus must shift as well. Channel-specific data doesn’t have the cross-channel visibility that is necessary for Omnichannel use. Companies must transform their disparate, channel-specific data into Omnidata.

Converting to Omnidata is definitely not an easy task. It requires a lot of investment, it’s difficult to measure, and the benefits are not immediately visible. Still, despite all its complexities, moving from channel data to Omnidata is a necessity. Companies should embrace the challenge and react to it sooner, rather than later.

Customers don’t care about how many channels an organization has. They only care about how seamless their buying journey is. They should be able to start their journey from any channel and take it to completion on any other channel. This is what makes the buying process convenient. This is what Omnichannel is all about.

As you ponder about your Omnichannel strategy, think about the above-mentioned points. Are siloed channel experiences crippling your attempts to move into Omnichannel? Is your data suitable for cross-channel use, or is it stuck in single-purpose mode? Are you ready to be an Omnichannel company fueled by Omnidata? All of these are questions to consider. In the meantime, stay tuned to this blog for more details about channel integration. And be sure to look for my upcoming articles featuring Omnidata.

Authored by Yatin Bhatia – Manager Client Services (Retail/e-commerce) at Absolutdata