Creating an Omnichannel Customer Experience and Why Retailers Must

Omnichannel is the new retail. It means that there are no walls between brick and mortar and online, between online and social media, between social media and email and, one day very soon, between humans and the metaverse. In other words, the omnichannel customer experience creates a seamless customer journey that allows consumers to move easily among all of the channels a retailer can use to reach a purchaser.

A Digital Commerce 360 analysis of US Commerce Department data shows that consumer spending online in the US rose to $870.78 billion in 2021, up 14.2 percent from the pandemic-inflated numbers recorded in 2020. Compare the 2021 figure to pre-pandemic 2019 stats and online spending rose a whopping 50.5 percent.

Those are numbers far too big to ignore. Customer retention demands a seamless experience that allows consumers to move from in-store to online to in-app purchases with ease.

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Your Complete Guide to Launching a Search Fund

As the incredible success of private equity over the past couple decades has made clear to many aspiring company owners and investors, if you can find and acquire a decent company, it’s possible to earn great returns.

This has fueled a new class of individuals seeking to launch their own search funds. What exactly is a search fund and how do you become successful at it?

Let’s explore.

The Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Entrepreneurial Studies explains search funds this way: “The model offers relatively inexperienced professionals with limited capital resources a quick path to managing a company in which they have a meaningful ownership position.”

Inexperienced professionals? Limited capital resources? It doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success.

But it can be.

How to Improve Your Company’s Performance: 5 Critical Questions to Ask

Every business owner is looking for ways to improve company performance. But where to start? Management consultants talk about KPIs and workflow, business strategy and culture. All important, to be sure. But in a rapidly changing world, owners and managers do well to ask themselves how they can improve business performance — even when financials look great at the time.

Often, by the time a company calls us for help, the signs of peril have been lurking or shouting out for months or years. The bottom line is that the leader missed or ignored signs of pending crisis because they failed to ask themselves critical questions.

1. How Can We Improve Customer Satisfaction?

“To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business,” said Peter Drucker, the godfather of the field of modern management. Each year, the Drucker Institute identifies the best-managed public companies in the US. The ranking gauges America’s largest publicly traded companies according to Peter Drucker’s principles of effectiveness: “Doing the right things well.” One of the metrics for performance is high quality customer satisfaction.

And it’s easy to see why customer service matters. How often do you get fed up with long call wait times, or sites that are unbelievably hard to navigate?

The days when big companies had a monopoly that meant they didn’t need to worry about customer retention are long gone. Today, customers demand that all companies — large businesses as well as small businesses — cultivate a strong positive relationship with them.

In today’s hyper competitive business climate, deeply understanding what motivates your customers and leads to customer retention must be a non-negotiable business goal.

To thrive in this economy, businesses need to take a close hard look at how customer engagement and customer satisfaction can be improved. That could mean conducting focus groups, managing a social media listening program, implementing IT initiatives to improve customer wait times, improved sales training, and/or regular customer check-ins. Every company should have a customer experience performance improvement program in place.

Knowing how well you’re serving customers right now and what you need to improve is a key measure of whether your business will be successful in the future.

2. How Can We Grow Employee Engagement and Development?

“The enterprise must be able to give [its employees] a vision and a sense of mission. It must be able to satisfy their desire for a meaningful contribution to their community and society,” Drucker said.

This is not your father’s world. Hiring someone who stays with a company 25+ years is no longer a realistic goal. But there still are ways to improve employee performance, employee satisfaction, and employee productivity. What do your team members value? Gen Zers are likely to be looking beyond pay as an incentive to engage. They want mentoring, they want some say in decision-making and they want to know that they are making an impact.

If your employees are reporting low morale, lack of communication, or turning in poor work performance, it may be because they do not feel connected to your mission and vision.

Every employee should know what your organization is trying to accomplish, why the mission and vision are good for the organization and good for them, and how they can play a part in making that mission and vision come to life.

How can you better nurture and develop talent within your team?

3. How Can We Be More Innovative?

Every business needs to spend cycles to evaluate products, services, processes, and markets. They must prune ones that are no longer relevant, and build on the success of others to continuously improve or innovate.

No sector will be spared as technology and IOT changes how we interact with products and services. Case in point: Taxis have been around for more than half a century, unchanged. Then Uber disrupted the marketplace. Hotels were the de facto go-to until Airbnb hit the market, giving consumers options to rent a whole house for the price of a cramped hotel room.

Certainly, ramping up innovation can be a challenge. Oftentimes, bringing in a fresh perspective can do wonders. There is plenty of valuable expertise in your company, but the ability to see beyond daily performance management processes and optimize for new, potentially high-performing opportunities takes a new perspective. Even if your staffs possesses the necessary skill sets to innovate, sometimes the best thinking for your business, even your industry, will come from other sectors.

What resources will you commit to R&D to learn what is working and what needs business improvement in the short-term and over a longer time frame?

4. Are We Being Socially Responsible?

If living through two years of a worldwide pandemic taught us nothing us, it’s that we are all connected. The Drucker Institute report says that management must take responsibility for the impact of their organization and do what is genuinely in the public good.

Taking time to review how your company is socially and environmentally conscious can reveal whether you are running your business as effectively as possible. What are your core values? Do people know those core values and adhere to them as to not exploit people and resources? How are you giving back to the community and your employees?

It is a priority that cannot be dismissed today. Employees as well as customers expect it.

Can you set goals that prioritize social responsibility?

5. How Can We Improve Our Financial Strength?

Financial strength is, of course, the key to corporate effectiveness. Without it, there will be no company.

“There is only one appropriate yardstick of business performance. This is the return on all assets employed or on all capital invested,” Drucker said. “To be a marginal producer is always dangerous.”

Financial numbers alone do not paint a proper picture of a company’s management style or its health, but they cannot be overlooked. Look at your company’s financial performance against where you could be operating. Are you hitting your goals and metrics?

How We Can Help You Improve Your Company’s Performance

A well-run company is a sum of many parts, and the Drucker Institute report highlights the most important pieces you must assess to determine if your business is running optimally. A weakness in one area can easily have a domino effect, negatively impacting other areas of a business.

Owners, entrepreneurs, and management teams should conduct a business assessment to get a snapshot of the health of their organizations. If there is a lack of time and leadership resources, proactive businesses find an outside leader to conduct their needs assessment.

Harvard Business Review reports that an organization has less than a 10% chance of ever recovering from a stall in growth whether it’s due to problems with execution or failing to pivot away from a core strategy that isn’t working. To avoid being one of the statistics, ensure you are in touch with where your organization sits, and what you can consistently be improving to charge into the future.

Reach out to us for a confidential consultation to assess how an interim CEO, CFO, CIO or CMO can help improve your company’s performance.

A Veteran CPG Executive on Building a Cannabis Brand

The cannabis business has been exponentially growing in the last few years — just look to the proliferation of dispensaries, and growing acceptance across state lines. But thanks likely in part to stress and stay-at-home orders, 2020 was a big year for the bud. According to a BDSA report, sales of legal cannabis in the U.S. hit $17.5 billion last year, a nearly 50% increase from 2019. And it’s projected to jump to more than $40 billion by 2026 as more and more states legalize cannabis overall or add adult use programs to existing medical ones.

That means standing out in the market is all the more important. Businesses can follow some parts of the consumer product playbook, but with wildly different rules and regulations from state to state, bringing a cannabis product to market is anything but traditional. That’s what InterimExecs RED Team executive, Leah Bailey — Chief Business Development Officer at Australis Capital Inc. an early stage, brand focused MSO that was originally an offshoot of Canadian LP Aurora and former CEO of Fluresh, a vertically integrated cannabis company based in Michigan — experienced when she made the pivot to cannabis.

“I’d worked for many years in consumer products and was looking to find new challenges and learn a new industry,” says Bailey, whose resume includes mass market personal care and beauty product providers Helen of Troy, Paris Presents and Unilever. “I love the fact that everything we do is a challenge. Many people are coming out of traditional consumer products companies like PepsiCo and Kraft and going into cannabis from a marketing standpoint. It’s become very accepted.”

What is the key to starting and growing a cannabis business? Here, Bailey explains how to translate traditional CPG skills to a cannabis brand, understanding consumers without traditional market research, and what the future holds for the industry.

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Lessons from Intel Capital’s Co-Founder Avram Miller

Avram Miller, a well regarded Silicon Valley luminary, has recently published a memoir that chronicles his journey in the world of technology.

It is called The Flight of a Wild Duck, which is how Intel’s CEO, Andy Grove, referred to him because Miller would always chart his own course. This included founding Intel Capital, which became the most successful corporate venture group, and playing a leading role in the creation of residential broadband.

The book is full of interesting stories of key figures in the tech world and well as important lessons.

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Growing and Managing a Family Business

At the beginning of my career, I was involved in a lot of startups. I was starting with nothing – zero, zilch — so I’ve always had a lot of respect for entrepreneurs because you start from an idea and not much else. To be honest, in the beginning, I somewhat discounted my friends who were inheriting family businesses. When they’ve been at it for generations, I thought ‘well, how hard can this be?’

Thing is, the older I get, the more I’ve gotten to know various family offices and family run businesses and now, I’ve come to realize that running a family business is harder. Much harder. It’s a legacy that in some ways can be so overwhelming to continue to build, and not screw up, whereas with startups you have the luxury of low or no expectations.

Compare that with the legacy/obligation/burden handed to the second, third, or fourth generation, and there can be incredible pressure on the business and family to do well. And it’s even harder now, when no business – no sector – is immune to the kind of disruption, to the kind of disintermediation that technology has introduced into every industry and market. Nothing can be taken for granted, regardless of longevity.

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Expanding and Scaling Your Company: The Growth Interim’s Success Stages

As an executive who has spent his career growing companies, taking companies public, and successfully selling businesses, Charlie Shalvoy says the first thing he does when he parachutes into a company is begin with an assessment. Whether the company is venture-capital backed or private, or in manufacturing, energy, semiconductors, or industrial equipment, figuring out the current state of operations is always the first step. Charlie divides the stages an interim executive goes through in taking action in a new company into four phases:

Phase 1: Taking Hold (90 Days)

When a company seeks to expand into new markets or scale operations to support current and future growth, Charlie takes on a role ranging from Interim CEO to Executive Chairman, where he coaches and serves alongside the CEO and management team. He describes that in the taking hold phase, an interim executive identifies what’s broken – even fast growing companies need repairs. What is getting in the way? What is causing distress?

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What is My Business Strategy? Owners Need a Game Plan

No organization is immune to challenges, not if it has any ambition. But how do we as owners and leaders put our strategy hat on to see down the road, or attempt to see, to predict where markets will go, how customers will act and react? To play the great game of chess in the real world – which is strategy.

Sometimes that is easier said than done. The eloquent Mike Tyson put it so well when he said, “everybody has a plan until I punch them in the mouth.” We would do well to remember how limited our brilliant strategies in fact are, how fragile in the face of ambiguity, uncertainty and future black swan events.

Just look to history to see how companies have been blindsided with the punch they never saw coming. Kodak invented the first digital camera in 1975, but put launch on hold in fear of cannibalizing their film business. We all know the story from there….Kodak who? Or take Blockbuster – which failed to pivot when Netflix showed up. And then Borders and Barnes & Noble, crushed under the Amazon onslaught. And the examples of business strategy gone wrong go on…

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What Keeps Business Owners Up at Night

The best, truest, and most bleak line I’ve heard from a mega-successful company founder was Dave Becker telling me: “we have all had the sleepless nights, when it’s 2am and you’re staring at the ceiling.” Dave is the founder of a number of companies including First Internet Bancorp (Nasdaq: INBK), the granddaddy of online banking.

From the outside, we see a successful entrepreneur with multiple home runs and think they must be sitting on easy street. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer is: everything. It always appears easy or obvious once a company has made it, but what we often don’t hear about are the trials and tribulations that happen at every stage of a company’s growth from young and unknown, to in between, and then big and ambitious. The sleepless nights. The questions of can you make payroll. The we-almost-went-bankrupt moments. This is real and it’s no surprise that many of our inquiries for help from owners show up in our inbox after the 9-5 employees have gone home.

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