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Expert Opinion

Expert Opinion

Expert Opinion

Customers have made it clear they like an omnichannel shopping world. What actions should retailers focus upon to deliver a seamless experience for these customers?

A ‘single view’ of enterprise data – yes, we have been talking about it for many years, but now it’s more necessary than ever before and fortunately we have the technology that makes it more achievable. Let’s be clear: when I say ‘single view’, I am referring to a single reference point for all data, a way of aggregating, managing and enriching it in a single place for omnichannel consumption. Part of this is collecting behavioural data across all the channels that we use to provide a solid foundation on which to base the ‘omnichannel customer experience optimisation’ process.

  • Omnichannel data is different: much more expansive than traditional (ERP, CRM, PIM) systems are able to deal with. When establishing a single view of the key omnichannel data (product, customer, orders and stock), it is important to consider why these data points are different in an omnichannel world; the dataset is typically broader than we are used to and the opportunities not always clear.
  • Product data: typically omnichannel product data is closest to being ‘omnichannel ready’. Standard product records are enriched with imagery, videos, reviews, etc, in order to serve the ecommerce channel more effectively. But in an omnichannel environment, the social relevance of product data also has to be considered – including user-generated content and social statistics such as Facebook ‘likes’ that will need to be added. In addition to this, the generation of QR codes from this dataset will be important enablers for a good omnichannel customer journey.
  • Customer data: the Holy Grail for all marketers! The more that is known about the customer and their omnichannel behaviour, the more effectively they can be targeted with advertising, promotions, cross-sells and up-sells. Traditionally this has been a major struggle though; data has been spread across email marketing lists, website registrations and in-store loyalty cards. In addition to historical data such as orders and abandoned baskets, we also need to consider real-time behaviour – what is the customer looking for at this moment in time?

Building an accurate picture of the customer as a whole is a major challenge if the customer is not served from a single system. But if they are, it will be easier to achieve the ultimate ‘single view’.

Kees de Vos, VP business consulting, hybris

Customers have made it clear they like an omnichannel shopping world. What actions should retailers focus upon to deliver a seamless experience for these customers?

You can’t have a seamless omnichannel experience without a seamless level of trust. It’s an oldfashioned mono-channel ideal that, in this big data age, has never mattered more. In a bricks-andmortar world, the shopkeeper stands behind the product. In a digital world, the core of trust between you and your customer lies in the product information, the “record of truth”.

Good product information management (PIM) software streamlines workflows and processes, and tightly integrates with ERP and ecommerce platforms. It enables multiple versions for regions and languages. It encourages collaboration and coalesces teams by providing simple, flexible interfaces for the internal stakeholders and vendors who author, enrich, preview and approve the layered, multi-dimensional content that will lead your customer to your product and keep them coming back. Th

The average product has 250 unique attributes. Some have thousands. Each pen, toothbrush, ball has its own data DNA. In the earliest stages of any customer journey, search terms are general. “Cricket ball.” Later on, they’re more complex. “Best UK-made match-weight night cricket ball.” PIM lets you structure enriched content that responds, entices and amplifies at every stage, with flawless consistency, via every cricket review or comparison site, mobile device, call centre, marketplace. In the sporting goods store, signage and POS systems are perfectly aligned with customer’s your record of truth: the stable, central repository that feeds satisfying and trustworthy product and marketing data to every touch point.

The part-time salesperson at the door is as knowledgeable as that old-fashioned shopkeeper because she’s got ready access to comprehensive feature/benefit material. This particular ball was sourced just yesterday, but data syndication was precise, approved and nearly instantaneous. Without PIM, keeping apace with an “endless aisle” is, frankly, impossible.

The omnichannel world has perilous pitfalls, among them inconsistency and content that lacks depth and granularity. Analytics, searchandising and recommendation tools play critical roles today, but they won’t directly strengthen your reputation, and most won’t even work optimally, let alone seamlessly, if they aren’t fed high quality product data via a top-notch PIM. Seams are acceptable in cricket balls. Not customer relationships.

Richard Hunt President and CEO, Agility Multichannel

Customers have made it clear they like an omnichannel shopping world. What actions should retailers focus upon to deliver a seamless experience for these customers?

Retailers pushing to satisfy increasingly connected and empowered customers across multiple shopping channels don’t need the IT infrastructure of big box stores to succeed. An integrated commerce solution that links your physical stores and web store with back-end order management, marketing, financials and inventory puts these five steps to omnichannel success within reach of all retailers.

  1. Optimise your customer touchpoints. Smartphones and tablets have become powerful shopping tools. Look to responsive web design to ensure that your web store can adjust dynamically to deliver content optimised for each digital customer touchpoint.
  2. Make real-time inventory data available. Showing web shoppers what’s available in store and online is fast becoming a mandate, but it doesn’t stop there – in-store employees need access too. A mobile point of sale (POS) device can “save the sale” on the shop floor by helping quickly determine that an out-of-stock product is available at a store 10 miles away or can easily be shipped to the shopper.
  3. Make the experience fast and convenient. Letting customers order online and pick up at their local store allows shoppers to get their products quicker and sav

    e on delivery costs. Additionally, retailers can boost customer loyalty, store traffic and incremental revenue by allowing online purchases to be returned to physical stores, ultimately resulting in great customer satisfaction.

  4. Provide superior customer service. A single view of each customer, for example, what that customer has ordered and when that order has been shipped, will enable you to deliver the attention and support customers expect by providing visibility into all online, in-store and call centre transactions and interactions.
  5. Leverage customer data to cross-sell and upsell. Increase the likelihood of future purchases by leveraging customer knowledge from all channels to promote the right products, to the right shoppers, through their preferred channel.

As retailers work their way through these steps, they will realise that the drive to differentiate will ultimately require the flexibility to continuously enhance the customer experience. Choosing the right commerce platform – one capable of supporting the creativity the marketplace demands – will make the prospect of this innovation more an opportunity than a challenge.

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