Taking customers from web to retail seamlessly isn't a 'technology' problem; it's a 'mindset' problem. And therefore, the (good) solutions aren't costly; they are just tricky.
Look at the image. If you have a retail shop and a website then look carefully for a second. This is exactly how your customers see you today. There is no distinction in their minds between your website's home page and your retail store entry; there is no distinction between your website's checkout page and your retail store checkout line.
Most retailers today think of technology as just an enabler for the customer to move from one channel (i.e. web) to the next (i.e. in-store) seamlessly. The fact is that true seamless journeys aren't just about making the customer move from one channel to the next. They are about giving the customer a seamless experience. They are about creating as minor disruptions as possible in their perceptions and thoughts as they engage with you via different channels. The less those disruptions are, the easier it'd be for you (and for them!) to pick up from where you both left.
So why is it so tricky? There is not one reason for that.
With increasing number of technologies filling the marketing landscape our customer information has become more spread out. While we have reduced friction at a micro level, we have in-fact increased friction at a macro level.
Disjoint Technologies and Standards
Marketing Technology is one area that terribly lacks standards. This is a pity knowing how much impact marketing has on our society.
Our Disruptive Nature
Humans have a history of being disruptive. Amongst many other things, this is also what makes us unique and enduring as a society. But when the speed with which disruption happens in one area surpasses the speed with which it happens in the other, we end up creating inefficiencies and complications. For example the disruptions created by Internet and then by Social Internet has been far more than what our marketing technologies could (and can) handle. As a result we have total chaos of marketing technologies.
Is there a solution? Absolutely! And unlike most of the cases, it doesn't have to be neck breaking complicated and heart breaking expensive.
Go beyond 'Data Layer' - Think 'Information Layer'
Start simple; think how your current systems can share important information instead of just data. Not everything needs to be real time. Not everything needs to be perfect. But the sooner you go beyond just replicating data from one silo to other – to understanding the true information behind all those silos of data, the sooner you'll be able to effectively market.
Focus on Adopting Standards
While very few, marketing technologies are slowly thinking about standardization. Keep an eye on what all standards are coming up in your field of business and how they can be incorporated in your marketing efforts.
Disruptions are beautiful. They make us awesome. And so there should be no reason why organizations should be afraid of that. Keeping an eye on disruptions and planning to adapt to those early on can make or break the organization. Businesses that understood how Internet is going to change the way we shop way early in the game and planned for it are right now the leaders in their areas. Focusing on disruptions won't provide immediate results but make a strong pavement for your future marketing efforts.
Making beautiful customer journeys has never been expensive; it has been just tricky.