More than 60% of the shoppers buy products or services online once in a week. On the top of it, 45% of the shoppers want retailers to let them order online, 24% are availing subscription services and finally, 14% are using in-store kiosks to purchase products that are not readily available. Today’s shoppers are searching for a product from their smartphone, visiting a retail shop to compare the quality and price of it, and finally buying it through another device. Retail businesses must be ready to deliver rapid and customer-centric contextual experiences to the shoppers or get disrupted by the growing competition.
When Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, discovered the facts above through a survey, it clearly explains the significance of delivering an omni-channel contextual experience to the Millennials and Generation X users. Pressed with time, these users are looking for high-quality, customized, and relevant content based on their preferences and digital footprints (purchase history, past searches, buying journey data, and so on).
The survey also revealed two surprising insights related to the changing shopping trends:
- One-third of users buy online at least once a week.
- Two-thirds of users report convenience and in-the-moment experience as critical to them than cost when buying online.
Let’s take Netflix for example. The entertainment company has championed the concept of contextual personalization and is instrumental in developing future business models centered around customer preferences and their convenience.
When users subscribe to a Netflix account, they can start playing a video on one device and continue to watch the remaining video from another device anytime, anywhere. Customers can set genre preferences and receive automatic recommendations for new content based on their preferences irrespective of touchpoint.
In 1999, BlockBuster, at its peak, refused to invest in Netflix. We all know what happened next. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010 and Netflix is now a $28 billion dollar company because it predicted the changing customer expectations better than BlockBuster.
The facts clearly call for retail companies to introduce new tools and business processes for delivering consistent, dynamic, personalized and focused content offerings across all touchpoints. However, companies are facing some tough challenges during this transition phase from single channel to omni-channel.
The market is flooded with various tools to perform different tasks. Complex integrations often limit possibilities due to inconsistent system behaviour and the underlying data is often out-of-date and difficult to access.
There is a demand for ‘one version of truth’ for creating a truly seamless and cohesive omni-channel experience. Simplifying the technical architecture and unification will solve only one part of this burning issue.
For innovation and personalization to happen, teams across marketing, sales, and service must have complete control. Using intuitive and simple-to-use self-service business tools will empower these teams to break silos and personalize offerings across all touchpoints without any fuss. In fact, IT, BI, and senior management can also utilize the power of self-service tools in delivering omni-channel CX.
Benefits of Self-Service Business Tools (SSBT) for Retail Omni-channel
Adopting SSBT is beneficial to all user groups including customer facing, back office, and senior management employees
For Front or Customer Facing Roles
With customers interacting and shopping from multiple touchpoints, transactional, shopping behavior, and historical data is growing by leaps and bounds.
Due to multiple legacy BI systems in place defined by each touchpoint, marketing and sales are dependent on IT for consolidated customer interaction data and reports to understand the customer and segment them accordingly. They cannot define dynamic business KPIs to drill down into data immediately as it requires the IT team to hard code these changes every time.
Further, the present web content management tools are not robust and flexible. Business teams again depend on IT to upload banners, create promotion codes, or launch new offers. Due to unavailability of consolidated data, there is no guarantee that offerings are delivered at the right time, to the right customer, on the right device or touchpoint.
To add further, pundits believe that the concept of ‘connected store’ will soon become a key retail differentiator in the future – further creating challenges for customer facing teams delivering omni-channel CX with siloed technology. In-store technology is not digitally connected, robust, and flexible to help store reps understand the customers inside the store better and individualize experiences rapidly and in-the-moment.
So, how SSBT resolves these pain-points for the customer facing teams?
First, SSBT presents a 360-degree consolidated customer profiling data aggregated from all touchpoints. Second, marketing and sales team can define their business objectives or KPIs and query the system to find mission-critical answers/reports in seconds, which used to take weeks before. They can also extract key actionable insights related to customer’s social media behavior, past interactions, preferred channels, shopping sentiments and store them as templates for future reference.
SSBT also provides intuitive tooling for business teams to create user segments, upload banners, add promotional discount codes, product bundles and individualize the merchandising per channel, segment and device on-the-fly using a GUI editor without any technical help. Thus, marketing campaigns run effectively within the allocated budget and contextual personalization is seamlessly delivered without any break points.
Customer Service teams can interpret customer issues beforehand to resolve issues quickly and increase customer delight by delivering contextual service (Example – Offer additional discount codes for first time callers OR access the cart to complete pending transaction after customer’s approval)
Modern SSBT enables in-store contextual experiences by displaying a customer’s 360-degree view to the in-store staff on their tablets as soon as the customer enters a store (through facial recognition software). Through a guided selling process orchestrated in the tool, store reps can create instant product discount rules, mix-and-match or drag-and-drop merchandise mix, dynamically change the prices real-time and send personalized recommendations without any technical help to increase conversions per customer.
For Back Office Teams (IT and BI teams)
With siloed data warehouse systems, IT teams face the challenging job of writing long pieces of code to build consolidated reports for the customer facing, supply chain, and senior management team.
During system migration or module addition, staff spend a lot of time in understanding the database type of each system to avoid any data inconsistency issues post migration. However, accuracy is not guaranteed and more hours are invested in resolving issues.
Recently an article was published in CIO Insight which talks about adoption of self-service analytic system in the IT architecture. BI and IT teams can upload database files from multiple heterogeneous sources and perform data cleansing and consolidation faster with these systems.
As a end result, they can integrate any new customer touchpoint data set seamlessly in the retail systems. It enables customer-facing teams to view the real-time insights separately from this touchpoint, design an appropriate strategy and deliver contextual retail experience.
For Senior Management (Senior Managers and Directors)
Understanding consumer expectations and developing micro/macro business models rapidly is one of the key responsibilities of the senior management. If the senior management has access to a self-service system, they can quickly customize data and generate dynamic reports filtered by demographics, localities, and other factors to get a better and granular understanding of the business and make strategic decisions.
During boardroom meetings, new questions may come up with respect to a specific function or business area. With the help of self-service data customization facility, in-the-moment reports can be created to save time and efforts and arrive at better decisions.
The Final Takeaway: Self-service tools help retailers deliver rapid Omni-channel CX and achieve better resource utilization
Delivering rapid and in-the-moment omni-channel CX is critical for every retail business to remain competitive and maintain profitability. With self-service business tool enabled in a unified and flexible commerce architecture, personalization and innovation will start happening instantly to meet customers’ expectations at every channel and touchpoint without any gaps.
Self-service tools combine millions of data points to present the data with simplicity and clarity. With data democratization in place, gaps in the customer experience strategies are quickly identified and resolved instantly. Teams do not have to waste time in manual work items and concentrate more on building innovative customer strategies, tools, and business processes to achieve Omni-channel CX.
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