Retailers are making the creation of a seamless shopping experience across channels their top priority.
As the face of retail continues to evolve, retailers must progress rapidly if they hope to maintain their customer loyalty. Retail is growing more and more complicated as customers look to a multitude of platforms to do their shopping.
The customer journey is never a linear process – customers want to quickly and easily move across channels to research, shop and interact with your brand and they expect their journey to be personalized. To complicate this further, the mobilization of retail has spurred the convergence of the digital and physical experience – creating the need for real-time retail. The key to meeting elevated customer expectations is to create a consistent, personalized and satisfying shopping experience wherever, whenever and however they shop. Delivering on that experience requires a different approach that sets the stage for unified commerce.
According to the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, 51% of retailers indicate that creating a seamless experience across channels is their top priority. To support a seamless customer experience, 23% of the retailers surveyed have already implemented a single, unified commerce platform and another 52% plan to implement one within the next three years. Unified commerce leverages a single commerce platform to eliminate individual channel silos and solve the omni-channel integration challenges to offer a holistic customer experience across all customer touchpoints – in real-time.
“The customer journey can be simple or complex and can be different for each customer and each individual purchase. It’s not important that we have specific labels for these scenarios, like webrooming or showrooming, but simply that we understand that the customer journey is one that is very dynamic and as retailers we have the opportunity to optimize and enhance this experience to drive increased customer loyalty. This is why “start anywhere, end anywhere” cross-channel capabilities are so important, like enabling a unified or shared shopping cart across channels,” said Brian Brunk, principal, Boston Retail Partners.
“Over the last several months, we have read stories that indicate malls and traditional in-store retail are dead; however, in reality, retailers like ZARA and Apple are thriving in many of the same mall locations,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “The key difference between retail ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ is the customer experience. Going forward, retail success will be dependent on delivering an exceptional customer experience and without it, retailers will fail.”
Boston Retail Partners (BRP) conducted the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North American retailers to understand what retailers are currently undertaking to enhance the customer experience and the current state and future plans of unified commerce.
Key findings in the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey include:
- 51% of retailers indicate that creating a seamless and optimized experience across channels is a top priority this year
- 44% of retailers state that increasing customer loyalty is a focus for the next 12 months
- 75% of retailers plan to have a single commerce platform within 3 years
- Nearly 90% of retailers plan to have as part of their unified commerce platform, centralized inventory management, order management system and integrated CRM
- 89% of retailers indicate that, within three years. social media will be the predominant forum for interaction with the brand
- At least 75% of retailers plan to have mobile apps for associates and customers within three years