Forward-thinking retailers will concentrate their efforts on implementing technology that delight customers and help staff make shopping more exciting, fun and memorable.
Retail is moving its focus from around the automobile to the smartphone. This shift, already under way, will result in the eventual death of traditional offline commerce as we know it.
Here are 4 reasons why:
1. You no longer control the path consumers take to purchase your products
Today’s retailer has an unprecedented challenge – the ubiquitous consumer. This ever-evolving consumer profile has high expectations of retailers, top of the list being the ability to move across channels without friction or confusion.
How do you compete when your customers have so many retail and product options at their fingertips? Providing full visibility into inventory and pricing is one way. Omni-channel shopping will evolve in unpredictable, organic ways as consumers increasingly create their own paths to purchase.
2. For an experience to remember, personalisation is the new approach
Product is not core; the whole experience is core. The experience entails the product, online and offline experience and quality service; collectively becoming the brand in the consumer’s imagination, thereby creating loyalty. To achieve this, you need to be a data-optimised retailer. You must talk to your customers to understand and retain them. Personalisation is the new approach. Predictive analytics in retail will enable stores to know, with a great deal of certainty, what customers are going to want and when.
Few retailers are adjusting to the shift in consumer behaviour that mobile devices have enabled as far as the in-store experience goes, presenting an incredible opportunity for leverage. An Ipsos study found that two-thirds of consumers were unable to find the details they needed in a store, with many turning to the retailer’s own website or app to fill the information gap. One in three shoppers would rather research the item on their smartphone than get the responses from an in-store associate.
3. A holistic omni-channel experience
A forward-thinking solution that has presented itself in response to the in-store information gap is the loyalty application. By providing branded loyalty apps, retailers are providing a digital means for customers to collect points, save coupons, and research products in store and online.
Many loyalty programmes fail because customers sign up on purchase, throw a card in an already over-stuffed wallet or purse, and never use it again.
By providing a mobile app, you’re tying the benefits of a loyalty programme to a device that most Millennials always have on their person and reaping the rewards.
Loyalty apps offer ample opportunity for personalisation based on buying behaviour or consumer profile; personalised coupons, offers, or notifications will keep customers coming back to your store and spending money. A holistic omni-channel experience will include eCommerce visits and purchase history when generating offers and opportunities your customers will legitimately find engaging.
4. Fulfilment flexibility
Today’s consumers don’t only want fulfilment choices, they also want those choices to be fast. Whether offering in-store pickup or same-day shipping, retailers need to be prepared to provide a means for their customers to receive their purchases in a timely fashion that works for them.
To facilitate this ‘click and collect’ process, retailers need to employ fulfilment solutions that provide real-time inventory checks and on-hand stock validation for brick-and-mortar locations.
By utilising an omni-channel management platform, retailers can control the buyer’s journey across multiple touch points. The omni-channel platform notes, in real-time, that a local store has inventory on hand and offers same-day pickup in lieu of delivery.
While eCommerce has altered many behaviours, it hasn’t changed the fact that most consumers would prefer their purchases in hand as soon as possible:
- The customer completes the transaction, selecting the option for local pickup
- Upon purchase completion, sales associates at the brick-and-mortar location receive a notification via their plugged-in or mobile POS that an order needs to be picked
- After picking the order, the customer receives an email or push notification on their mobile device, advising them that their order is ready for pickup.
- Thrilled, they head to the store, where they present a QR code that was delivered to them at time of order.
- The associate scans the QR code into the POS, which locates the order and adds it to the sale
- The customer, while in the store, selects a few impulse items and completes the transaction.
- Too good to be true? With omni-channel management, it isn’t.
5. Empower employees
A unified omni-channel management system will empower in-store employees to better serve customers and complete sales on the ground. Examples of this are mobile POS systems—streamlined, mobile-optimised systems that allow in-store associates to access product information or complete purchases from the floor.
Apple, a company that was ahead of the curve in implementing mobile POS, has consistently ranked as the highest seller per square meter of retail space in this decade. The reason? Empowered and knowledgeable employees armed with tablets ready to answer questions and process transactions immediately for an improved customer experience.
A mobile POS system integrated with the omni-channel management system is capable of live inventory lookups, accessing product information, loading customer loyalty data, and processing payments for customers—no long checkout lines or searching for an associate to have a question answered; just providing the customer with what they need, when they need it.
Build tomorrow’s omni-channel experience, today
A comprehensive retail solution must be omni-channel, consumer-centric and personalised, a must-have differentiator, and deliver real-time insights. And agile to meet the needs of the digitally native generation of shoppers.
The benefit of implementing a unified omni-channel management system lies in the opportunity to keep an eye to the future.
Location beacons, recommendation engines, and personalised in-store remarketing are examples of omni-channel advancements that have yet to reach mass market adoption – but rest assured, they’re coming. It’s just a question of how prepared you will be when they arrive.