What is the technology that will save the customer experience? Is it face recognition? Is it virtual assistants?
It’s not the newest and flashiest technology of 2018 that will save the customer experience. The truth lies in what we’ve been talking about for years: omnichannel. Omnichannel allows retailers to deliver on what customers are already expecting.
In order to provide a seamless omnichannel experience to consumers, retailers must have a complete picture of all consumer activities, regardless of buying channel. Nothing is more frustrating to a consumer than a retailer who has blind spots of their activity. For example, if the consumer is in a store, and a retailer cannot look up their online activity; or if a consumer calls into a call center to add more to their online order they just placed, but the call center agent cannot modify that order or doesn’t have access to the website promotions.
Personalization is a leading initiative for retailers, however if retailers don’t account for all in-store, online, or call center activity, they cannot accurately individualize the experience for the consumer. This all leads to a disjointed experience that makes consumers look for better shopping experiences elsewhere.
In a recent study, we found that 58 percent of retailers say they don’t have in-store technology to view customer information across touchpoints. The in-store devices that typically enable access to this type of cross-channel view of the customer are mobile apps, tablets, or scanning devices. The technology behind them such as the ecommerce platform, order management system, and personalization solution all need to work together to gain a true understanding across touchpoints.
A simple solution is to empower in-store associates with mobile devices that connect into these systems — thereby providing the much needed consumer data to drive an individualized experience when face-to-face with a buyer. Improving in-store experiences is at the top of many retailer’s lists because a majority of sales still take place through physical buyer touchpoints. It is critical for retailers to leverage the use of technology with their store associates to deliver the experiences consumers are not only craving, but demanding of retailers.
Unfortunately it is a matter of reality that companies still have siloed data. It really can be a mix of situations that lead to retailers having siloed customer data and consumer experiences across channels. Some retailers are on older versions of technology that won’t allow easy integration with new systems. Those that are looking to upgrade their commerce platform are faced with a plethora of vendor and technology choices that mainly fall into one of three camps:
They create a homegrown system to their exact specifications, however it will be extremely expensive and any future development or maintenance are completely dependent on the retailer’s IT team.
They can go with an on-premise solution, which also allows for exacting specifications, however are typically very expensive to deploy with a very long launch time. The retailers are also then faced to pay for future upgrades – increasing their total cost of ownership (TCO).
The technology with the most flexibility and cost-effectiveness are multi-tenant, cloud-based solutions. The retailer can launch faster than homegrown or on-premise, still have their needs met, always be on the latest version of the technology — future proofing their investment and driving their TCO lower than traditional technology approaches.
Here at Kibo we believe the Cloud is the best place to build, particularly for retailers and manufacturers who are growing and changing as the market changes. The Cloud allows for more flexibility than on premise solutions, and allows for a robust order management system. A robust (OMS) is key to enable enterprise-wide inventory visibility, intelligent order routing, and a streamlined interface for store associates to use when preparing the order to ship or for pickup. As this study indicates, retailers are using a variety of technologies from warehouse management systems (WMS) to enterprise resource planning (ERP) to OMS. Those that are using WMS or ERP without OMS are limiting their abilities in omnichannel fulfillment, as those systems lack robust functionality to provide accurate inventory visibility and be a retailer’s single version of truth for their inventory.
Using our OMS, we have seen customers with significant uplift after deploying ship-from-store and in-store pickup. Ship-from-store allows retailers to expand the number and assortment of items available for online purchase, and reduces the need to discount slow moving items that are sitting in stores. In-store pickup has the added benefit of uplift in additional sales during in-store visits; retailers who provide best-in-class in-store pickup experiences are seeing up to 40% of their customers purchase additional items while picking up online orders — resulting in true ROI of their omnichannel strategies.
Discover more omnichannel technologies that are changing how we think of brick and mortar here.