The importance of connected CX in retail

18th Oct 2017

Connected retail graphic

Once upon a time, retailers had control of the consumer journey. A customer had to visit a store, find the product they wanted and pay the price. As mobile commerce became the standard for retailers everywhere, the balance of power shifted towards the customer – consumers quickly started moving their custom to retailers that offered the flexibility of shopping both at home and in the shops, driving prices down and increasing choice as well as making it easier to buy.

Omnichannel has the potential to take this one step further, but a consistent experience across all channels remains elusive; bringing all of the benefits of online shopping into the store, including  stock checking, extra product content, online ordering, fulfilment from other stores, and faster payment options, has become the minimum customers expect rather than exciting innovations. Finally breaking down any remaining channel silos once and for all is a vital next step in any retailer’s progress towards delivering a connected experience.

Experiences and expectations

Customers now have unparalleled choice and competition, and with online fulfilment and returns getting faster and easier, offline retail has to differentiate on more than just convenience. To provide a truly engaging experience that keeps customers coming back and encourages them to tell their friends, investing in the ‘theatre’ of retail is a smart move. That means providing unique experiences which encourage customers to see stores as destinations in themselves rather than just places to pick up products. And it’s not just customer expectations that have changed - sales colleagues are consumers too and often act as a key extension of the customer experience. They expect the same digital innovation and ease of use in the tools they use at work as they have in their personal lives. Now, more than ever, retailers need to take a fresh look at novel ways to apply technology to evolve the role of the physical store, and to equip sales colleagues to provide a level of service that makes customers feel valued.

Connecting people, products and business processes

It’s clear that connected customer experience is key to retail success in a fast-moving, technology-powered world where consumer behaviours are rapidly evolving along with their expectations. That means mobile-first, context-appropriate, consistent experiences that work by connecting data and functionality across the whole retail estate, and making them useful and easy to access whenever and wherever customers choose to shop. Sales colleagues have more information available to them than ever before but it can be overwhelming - they need modern, easy-to-use, pragmatic tools to ensure they can make the difference for customers and to reduce training overheads and churn.

Bringing together data from all business areas, from customer service through to stock management, is the only way to gain the elusive single view of customer activity that drives efficiencies, delivers excellent customer experiences and increases sales.

The retailers who are already winning the hearts and minds of customers by offering a truly omnichannel experience have one thing in common – a commitment to investing in technology and their overall connected retail strategy. Taking steps to make the right connections now is the only way to secure a future for most businesses – inertia is not an option.

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