The very latest in omnichannel retail starts with the (complex) basics
The marvelous thing about the internet is that it is a very democratic place. For retailers, the small, startup company can compete on the same platform as Rakuten, Flipkart, Lazada, and all the other huge, household names. What’s required is the right approach, the right attitude, and importantly, the right technology.
Building customer experiences
The customer has always been correct, of course, but in 2019, the customer’s needs and overall experience are dictating to retailers across verticals exactly how they want to interact. Shopping, payments, delivery, returns, and repeat business habits are all set by the customer. Creating top-quality customer experiences time after time needs careful management, and an awareness that there is no final goal; the process is continuous.
Combining relevant offers, omnichannel shopping and options, directed messaging, and secondary (yet highly effective) perks and offers are all part of building from each customer a brand advocate, one that will shout about the brand on your behalf.
The establishment of the customer at the center of the equation requires intelligent use of data. Luckily, retailers have a lot of that, although, it may be in separate silos across the organization. Marketing databases may not be connected with commerce systems that record choices or preferences, which may not ‘speak’ to logistics management platforms that hold data about delivery choices, returns, and so on.
Additionally, there’s a need for software and technology that can manage issues like distribution, stock, warehousing, deliveries, supplier management, and much more. In that respect, good retail is like a swan swimming on a lake: seemingly serene, but the activity below the surface needs to be quite frantic.
Walking before we can run
As a retailer with an interest in technology, it’s easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest tech that’s out there. AI (artificial intelligence), augmented reality experiences, and intelligent in-store pricing hardware that can dynamically change each SKU’s price point in real-time— these are incredible, and the possibilities are huge. But prioritizing the basics is much more important, especially when “the basics” are, today, really very complex.
Because the customer now dictates retailer strategies, both virtual and bricks-and-mortar stores in the same organization must work together. Customers choose a product on their smartphone, then take a trip downtown to pick up the item, try it on or just see it in real life. At the same time, the customer may return an item that they bought online and had delivered to their workplace last week. Managing this type of customer needs the synergy between different parts of the retail business to work seamlessly.
But the rewards are there: once the software and hardware systems (like stock control, ePOS, logistics tracking devices and so forth) are in place, the retailer now finds that all their storefronts become powerful assets. A virtual store in a shopping app can be given new “departments”, or categories, where personalized offers can be presented to previous customers who have exhibited certain choices in the past. Physical stores can be supplemented by pop-up stores that drive brand awareness and build loyalty among shoppers.
The retail future is joined up
In terms of data, it makes no difference to technology where purchases, returns, or browsing takes place. The ideal for any business is, therefore, a unified retail platform: customers can buy online, view in-store, review on mobile, receive social media messaging on the desktop.
Unified retail, like the internet, is democratic. With the latest retail platforms available now from leading-edge suppliers like those highlighted below, companies can equalize customer, order and product lifecycles.
Here at Tech Wire Asia, we like to keep our ears to the ground with regards to new technology. However, we only showcase practical solutions that have been shown to have had a significant impact on real-world businesses competing in Asia and beyond. The following vendors tick all our boxes.
Already in place at over 1,000 retail brands across the globe, Aptos solutions are helping to ensure that customers get the best experiences from their chosen retailers. That means online shopping and real-world stores all operating from the same data. The result is joined-up, omnichannel retail.
This concept means that customers aren’t frustrated during their interactions with your business. There’s no dis-join between browsing online and seeing the same product in-store. Up-to-date stock levels inform what the customer sees on their phone, and payments can happen safely online, or with a sales assistant at an integrated PoS.
For sales teams too, the “democracy of data” (sometimes called a single source of truth) means the same information on customers’ and prospects’ behavior and preferences all come from the same place. And business owners, or department heads, can see figures and insights as they happen, right across every area of the operation. Reporting, planning, and strategy formulation therefore get a new level of speed and accuracy, allowing retailers to plan properly and iron-out problems, wherever they may happen in the retail process.
You can read more about Aptos on these pages; just click here to learn more
US-based Manhattan knows all about the power of the consumer. It’s a modern attitude to business that’s derived from the consumerization of technology. Whereas a few years ago, customers were willing to wait weeks for a special order to arrive in-store, the “always on” nature of smartphones and networks mean that businesses too have to offer the same level of responsiveness.
In Asia especially, where mobile payments are more common than in Europe and the US, shopping and paying online is commonplace. The Manhattan Associates software solutions extend from physical stores’ systems (like point of sale, in-store advertising, and display), down the supply chain and logistics, and even across warehousing systems, too.
That creates a fully end-to-end technology stack that lets retailers build digital futures for themselves. With competitors’ sites just a click (or a few steps) away, making a positive impact on the customer every time is the first step in keeping each one ‘on board’.
Whether it’s B2C, B2B, or wholesale, the offerings from Manhattan Associates can create immersive customer experiences with hyper-personalized offers and directed messaging across social and direct channels. Increased profitability and efficiency help companies ‘push possible’ — you can read more on the company’s website, here.
*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia