The top 3 customer demands and how omnichannel retail helps deliver them
Retail is more customer-centric than ever. With the massive and rapid growth of online stores, tearing down geographic boundaries and offering new levels of service, customers have more choice and therefore power than at any other time in the long history of retail. They know how they want to engage, and will vote with their wallets for those retailers who deliver it.
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Retailers understand that engagement – and therefore revenue and profit – is all about the shopping experience. They want to deliver outstanding customer service, to build a loyal community of shoppers who not only spend more themselves, but who use social media to spread the word to others and further extend that customer base.
From my conversations with retailers across all categories, I hear the same three priorities when it comes to engaging customers with a positive experience and a superior level of customer service.
- Ease of use
These are the things that they hear, again and again, from their customers, and which they strive to deliver.
They know that their customers value personalised offers – promotions tailored specifically to them, based on their preferences, their shopping history, their profile.
They know that shoppers want convenience – they want to be able to shop seamlessly across online and bricks and mortar stores. They want to browse, select and purchase online and then have their order ready and waiting at their nearest store for speed and convenience.
They know their shoppers want ease of use – for example, they don’t want to have to keep track of paper vouchers to take advantage of offers and promotions, they much prefer them sent electronically, to their smartphone. They want offers sent at the right time, the time when they are considering a purchase, including when they are in, or close to the store.
So why isn’t every retailer taking this approach? Well, although I certainly hear from most retailers that they understand and want to implement the 3 elements of superior customer service, I also hear many of them talk about the hurdles they face. Hurdles they find it hard to overcome with their current systems.
They find it hard to get the insights, the information and the integration that they need in order to deliver personalisation, convenience and ease of use.
They have a POS, and maybe a loyalty system, and certainly an inventory and fulfilment system, but they are all separate. They don’t integrate, they don’t feed each other, they don’t share information. And if there’s one thing that is needed to deliver superior customer experience, it is a holistic view of the customer, throughout all their interactions and transactions with the brand, in whatever format, at whatever time and whatever place.
That’s when the conversation turns to the benefits of an omnichannel retail platform.
- An omnichannel retail platform brings together all the systems and applications that give a retailer an in-depth understanding of their customers’ history, preferences, shopping patterns and online and instore purchases.
- It allows integration with 3rd party applications from specialist and niche providers to enhance that customer knowledge even further.
- It replaces cumbersome and ineffective manual processes with automation.
- An omnichannel retail platform enables communication between multiple systems to give the complete 360 degree of the customer that is essential if the retailer is to deliver them a personalised, convenient and easy to use experience.
No matter what the flavour of retail they’re in, I haven’t yet met a retailer who isn’t excited about the prospect of an omnichannel retail platform and the opportunities it offers to deliver a superior level of customer experience.