31 January 2018

Unified Commerce - Resistance for Retailers is Futile!

Retailers that resist digital transformation or are lagging are the ones we hear about everyday, on the list of big brands filing for bankruptcy, store closures and major layoffs in a desperate struggle to survive.

Leaders embrace change and adopt a digital approach. They compete on customer experience. They optimize processes and operations and unify commerce data to meet customer expectations.

Today’s success stories are the brands who understand that investing in technology is a must, not a choice. That traditional retail is a dying breed and the future of retail is the convergence of physical and digital shopping experiences, both customer-facing and operationally.

The 5 customer expectations retailers must meet if they want to survive

1. Speed

  • One of the biggest outcomes of digital is speed. People want instant gratification. They want to find what they’re looking for as quickly and as easily as possible. Online and in-store.
  • Online means your website better load very quickly. Your search engine is intuitive. Your merchandising is logical. You have mere seconds to make it a positive or negative experience.
  • In the store, speed means service – associates with mobile tools can assist customers on the spot, with access to the right information in real time, to answer any questions, help them find products, even skip checkout lines and complete transactions.

2. Choice

  • Online shoppers have access to a seemingly endless assortment and rich product information, and can compare prices in a glance making it easier for them to choose.
  • In-store, they expect the same. One way to meet the demand is with endless aisle capabilities, company-wide inventory visibility to locate out-of-stock items and get them into the customer’s hand.
  • Some retailers are changing their physical footprint, down-sizing or optimizing store space to create better customer experiences. Drop shipping is one way to offer customers a bigger selection without carrying physical inventory.

3. Convenience

  • Convenience is one of the main benefits of online shopping. The ability to browse in PJs and purchase 24/7 is far more convenient than having to go to a store during opening hours.
  • The store can complement the conveniences of online shopping, and smart retailers are offering click and collect as the perfect option to purchase when and where they want, and pick up at a location and time that’s convenient to them. Or offer delivery options.
  • Click and collect is also a great way to drive in-store foot traffic and create opportunities to engage personally with shoppers and create memorable experiences.

4. Consistency

  • Every touch counts when interacting with a customer, and they expect all experiences and communications to be consistent.
  • Whether you’re sending them a promotional email, presenting a targeted ad, welcoming them on your website or in your store, the message, tone, offering should be consistent and relevant.
  • People are loyal to a brand for more than their products, and the more you personally engage with them everywhere they shop and offer valuable information, the more reason you give them to keep shopping with you.
  • And the more they shop with you, the more data you collect, the more personalized the relationship can be.

5. Price

  • Purchasing power is diminishing, making it difficult for retailers, especially small and medium sized businesses, to keep pace in a dynamic economy.
  • Not only are consumers savvy, they’re more sensitive to getting the most value for their dollar.
  • For retailers selling commodity products, price becomes even more of a factor because consumers have so many options to compare and opt for the best deals.
  • At the same time, consumers are willing to spend more for high-end or luxury products, and for better experiences.

Meeting and exceeding theses expectations with unified commerce solutions

The promised land of unified commerce is not as far away as many retailers think. There are solutions that can help businesses deliver on new customer expectations without rebuilding.

Many such success stories are built with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail combined with the out-of-the-box integration of Episerver Commerce. Not only does this provide all the ERP and CRM functionalities needed to run modern retail, with seamless integration to POS and ecommerce running in the Azure cloud it’s a platform that helps accelerate and facilitate the path to modern retail success – and differentiation.

One platform to:

Create, manage and individualise digital experiences backed by personalization and behavioral site search.

  • Build an online store and extend the experience to new and existing brick and mortar locations.
  • Deliver buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere shopping experiences and endless aisle.
  • Offer exceptional customer experiences across touchpoints with a 360-degree view.
  • Differentiate with mobile in-store experiences like mobile POS and line-busting.
  • Innovate and grow faster with the power of the cloud and Microsoft Power Apps.

The future of retail is clear, what are you waiting for!

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