Multi-channel transformation: Monica Gout on Gateway’s web integration

The Multi-Channel Experience: Understanding the Role of Your Channels
Monica Gout, VP of e-commerce for Gateway
Summary: A case of multi-channel transformation – taking a company from direct seller of PCs through product diversification to home computing and media integration.

Gateway was founded 1985, selling PCs direct, 1995 moved “Beyond the Box”, 2003 becoming the branded integrator.
Multi-channel integration is getting increasingly important, as seen by research from as well as academic studies. There is cross-influence between channels, roughly half of all catalogue shoppers and one third of store shoppers do their prepurchasing preparation on the web.
Gateway’s vision is “Improving the quality of life through technology”, and the brand is seen as approachable, innovative, and (perhaps) personalized. The company has reacted to the stagnation in the direct PC market (as well as, I presume, the competition from Dell) by diversifying their products to focus on faster-growth categories, such as digital cameras, TVs, home electronics, PC used as a hub). Launched 118 Gateway-branded non-PC products in 22 categories in 2003. Also want to be a branded integrator, taking care that things work together. New categories include home entertainment, digital hub, portable digital hub, etc. They have a “digital home” demonstration page on the web, walk-through to see all Gateway products. Customers visiting this page has larger conversion rates than others.
Company had a web site that was a bit confusing and did not seem integrated. Set up goal to maximize the natural synergies of each channel: See-touch-handle, personal service, shopping enjoyment, no-hassle exchange works best in an off-line setting. Best price, large selection, shop quickly works better online. Need to see the channels holistically. Six-week project with IBM, redefined the customer experience framework. High-level flows, series of “wireframes”, what is the new look and fell of the web site.
Results of integration project has been very good, they had the best-selling plasma TV (42″) in 2003, Non-PC revenue came out at 31% of total.
Some advice for those trying to do the same thing:
Look carefully in the mirror: do you know the best practices for multi channel companies? Within and across industries? What do you know about your customers and what they want from you, When do they use what channels, and how. Try to paint a picture of what it looks like. Define the ideal customer experience.
Hurdles (and how to get over them)
– silos: exec sponsorship
– channel based compensation: revisit and enhance (need to pay for sales other channels)
– serving multiple customers groups, uniquely: Personalized web content
– static site, poor tools: Dynamic site, Content management, Web analytics
– costs: roadmap with short phases that start the benefit stream early
– strategy: passion for execution and results (don’t leave it at strategy stage).
Principles: Think global, act global (NOT local).