This year the Fortuitas team made their way to the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE). For those of you who may not be familiar with IRCE, this show typically focuses on ecommerce, but this year brick-and-mortar retail was also included.
With the show split into two sections there was a clear delineation between the two. After visiting with the software/technology side and moving over to the brick and mortar side, it was quite noticable how different the audiences were. Meanwhile, It became very clear that while technology keeps moving forward, brick and mortar is definitely not dead.
Here are some key takeaways:
1. Customer Experience is everything
Customer experience is definitely front and center in the minds of retailers. It is important to make it simple, convenient, and more enjoyable for customers to do business with you. A couple of examples include: Amazon delivering groceries and Walmart delivering groceries and putting them away for you.
Customer experience is not just when someone goes to a store and buys something. It's your website, mobile app, how the products are shipped, etc. Remaining cognizant of the customer experience at check-out is essential. Keeping data safe and providing ways to make it easier to pay are key elements to the customer experience. Card-on-file, virtual transactions and one-click or touchless payments are pretty much table stakes for delivering a positive customer experience.
Delivering a positive customer payment experience is predicated on keeping your environment secure and your customers’ experience current. You definitely need to make repeat transactions safe, seamless, and simple for your customers. We can help you do that effectively using technology from our various partners.
2. Single-Channel Retail is old news
Customers are not single-channel any more. This is not anything new. The majority of retailers have been multi-channel for a while now. However, multi-channel falls short because historically different channels have operated in silos – different teams, different inventories, and limited interaction.
Omni-channel is the big buzz these days and you can see it everywhere. Order online, pick up in store or at the curb. Try on clothes in store, order online for delivery at home. Another example given was the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods and how there has been a shift to drive sales and customer engagement through the combined effect of both channels.
Platforms that focus on automation, engagement, and retargeting help with building strategies to better engage customers, deliver a seamless experience and drive more business as a result.
3. Optimize your business and technology
With so many different channels and ways for orders to be fulfilled, optimization of your eCommerce business is vital. It’s not enough to just have the capabilities to sell through multiple channels or fulfill in certain ways. You must be consistent with your execution. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, customers want reliability and accuracy. Ultimately, they want to be able to trust you with their orders.
Integrating the right technology systems to help with automation are vital for success in today’s retail landscape. Finding ways to manage inventory for your channels when sales are coming from everywhere and tracking where orders are going can’t be left to manual processes. When customer service gets a call, they need to be able to tell the consumer the up-to-date information of where their order is in the process. Ensuring that your systems, departments and even trading partners are all connected and receiving accurate information can put your business a cut above the competition.
Don't settle for your legacy systems to try to make that work. Look into new technology systems to help streamline your business.
The retail space is alive and growing. Your customers' experience can be fueled by rapidly evolving technology. The key lies in knowing how to leverage the latest in technology to deliver the customer experience that sets you apart and keeps your customers returning time and time again.