Richard joined GiG in 2016 as managing director for GiG Media. He progressed to chief digital officer, and then chief operating officer. In November 2019 Richard was appointed as CEO. Richard is responsible for aligning the business to the strategic initiatives, and leading the company into future growth.
Operators must encourage retail and online divisions to interact more effectively to realise fully the opportunities afforded by an omnichannel approach.
That is the view of Richard Brown, chief executive of Gaming Innovation Group (GiG), a supplier that has made retail-to-online transformation its core offering over the last 12 months.
Land-based entities around the world have been eagerly launching or enhancing digital services amid the impact of Covid-19 on footfall, with regulatory and behavioral changes also contributing to migration from brick-and-mortar to apps and websites.
However, Brown has advised operators that are hastily going ‘omni’ to make addressing the gap between retail and online divisions an urgent priority.
“It is natural for people in organisations to focus on the areas they are responsible for,” Brown said, “But I think to have a truly successful long-term omnichannel approach there must be common goals for retail and online staff, or within the organisation as a whole, to have the utmost effect.
“For example, in-venue floor staff could have conversion KPIs for retail to online and retail management could have targets to increase conversion from 10% of walk-in to 20%.”
Accelerating the switch online
GiG welcomed a series of new clients last year as it realigned its focus to B2B services following the sale of its B2C segment to Betsson Group. The strength of its omnichannel services was evident by around 80% of those new clients being retail organisations in the process of making the move online.
While Covid-19 has accelerated the migration online, Brown said interest in omnichannel has been particularly prevalent in regions such as Eastern Europe and Latin America, with regulatory changes and greater digital penetration leading to an uptick in demand and new openings. Brown has enthusiastically grasped the opportunity to help businesses appreciate the long-term potential of omnichannel, which go far beyond the initial advantages of combined wallets and loyalty schemes.
“The subject matter and scope of what is possible to build over time with a focus on omnichannel is often naturally overlooked,” Brown added. “Operators will focus on first steps, which is the correct thing to do, but they can sometimes lose sight of what the long-term potential for expanding omni can be.
“Beyond rewards and wallet, you then need to be able to bridge forwards into other items: solving customer issues with a joined-up approach and bringing that into CRM, and customer messaging to drive engagement in both online and in-venue.”
While online might be considered a safe harbour for traditional retail operators facing turbulent times, in the longer term both sides can expect mutual benefits. Technology that is prominent in retail can be brought into the online sphere, while online can also be used to drive customers towards retail premises.
“You have some companies that are doing some great things for fintech and payments products in the retail side such as Everi, and those can be linked very well into the online and offline strategy and technologies,” Brown added.
“I believe a successful omnichannel approach should include an objective of how to pair the online and offline to enhance one another, perhaps rather than ‘mirror’ each other. Online should be seen as a way not only to support your retail customers’ online experience, but also for online to drive customers towards the retail assets.
“It is important to identify those areas from the retail gambling experience that can be ‘mirrored’ online; but it is also important to consider adapting them and creating something new. For example, if you have an exclusive VIP room, should you close that section off to a broader audience online, or position it towards an aspirational rewards programme?
“You must, of course, have elements of your online offering that capture what has made your retail business successful, but simply seeking to mirror your retail operation may cause you to miss out on opportunities.”
While operators will obviously be enticed by the prospect of a boost in revenue and greater engagement, Brown notes that the latter also allows for greater customer care and oversight of problem gambling.
“The capacity to link up player behaviour provides a real opportunity to tackle responsible gaming issues and protect players – especially important in markets where there is still a larger retail market than online,” he said.
“I think this gives a lot of opportunities for operators to engage actively and protect players with a better view of their profiles across both retail and online industries. As an example, we have withdrawal locks on our online systems at GiG, where the players cannot play with funds requested to be withdrawn. It’s a very popular feature for the players and has also been a key driver in loyalty and retention.”
Brown is clearly passionate about the potential for omnichannel and its impact on businesses and the sector as a whole.
He said: “There are so many features that we can deliver today and develop in the future that will just continue to enhance the view of the player and therefore how to tailor the experience to that individual. I think the omnichannel opportunity really starts and ends with the vision of where you want to take it.”