The Customer Journey is not a Linear Process

However difficult it may be to attain, a great customer experience is only achieved through delivered excellence across all interactions throughout the customer’s chosen journey.

What makes this challenging for retailer is the fact that 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 created a paradigm shift towards the convergence of the retail digital and physical experiences, which creates a need for real-time retail.

The customer journey can be simple or complex, and is different for each customer and individual purchase. The journey may begin or end in the store or online, and along that path it often has tie-ins to social media activity. It’s not important that we have specific labels for these scenarios, like webrooming or showrooming, but simply that we understand the customer journey is very dynamic. 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. Delivering on that experience requires a different approach and this sets the stage for unified commerce.

The-Customer-Journey-BaseTo better understand and analyze the customer journey, BRP segments the customer experience into the five E’s or E5.

The E5 of Customer Experience:
  • Educate – Offer customers the tools to research your brand and products
  • Engage – Interact with the customer wherever, whenever, and however they want to shop and engage with the brand
  • Execute – Ensure the organization offers the services and options that the customer wants and expects when they make a purchase
  • Enhance – Understand what you are doing right and what you need to do better so you can continually improve the customer experience
  • Enablers – Leverage the right technology, system, and tools to deliver the desired customer experience

Our recent Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey delves deeper into what retailers are doing, or plan to do, to deliver the seamless cross-channel experience customers want.

I encourage you to download the read the survey report:

DOWNLOAD: 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey

As always, I appreciate your insights and feedback.  Please share your comments below.


Houston, We have a Problem! – 2016 POS Survey Identifies Issues with Retail’s Faux Omni-Channel

Retailers recognize the need to create a holistic customer experience that transcends channels, but most attempts are falling short.

85percentAccording to the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, 85% of the respondents indicate that unified commerce is their top priority. Many retailers have taken the “just get something done” approach to deliver a seamless customer experience that transcends channels. The unfortunate result of this quick fix approach is a “faux” omni-channel model that doesn’t execute as promised and has the risk of disappointing customers. While 60% of retailers indicate they have implemented “inventory visibility across channels,” 80% of those retailers indicate that the system “needs improvement.” According to another recent study, this is a real issue, as 60% of click-and-collect orders placed on Cyber Monday had problems.[i]

“Saddled with legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment, retailers have scrambled to cobble things together in attempts to deliver the omni-channel capabilities customers expect. Retailers need to invest in infrastructure, networks and service oriented architecture (SOA) layer and do it right. The risk of losing customers due to disappointing shopping experiences caused by a flawed omni-channel architecture is deadly and that is why “real” unified commerce is retailers’ top priority for 2016.” – Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners

The 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current point of sale and customer engagement initiatives, priorities, and future trends as the physical and digital worlds converge within the store.2016 POS Survey Cover

Key findings in the 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey include:

  • Creating a true unified commerce environment is the top priority – 85% of retailers indicated this was a top priority for 2016
  • Improving customer engagement and the customer experience is critical – 68% of retailers indicated this was a focus for the upcoming year
  • Retailers are still occupied with payment/data security – 38% of retailers stated this was a top priority

I encourage you to download and read the complete 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey:

I hope you enjoy the report and welcome any comments or feedback. Please share your comments below.


[i] “Buy online, pick-up in the Store. Simple, right? Not this Christmas,” Washington Post, December 20, 2015.

Announcing the 2015 Mobile Commerce Awards winners

Mobile Commerce Daily – Retailers such as Starbucks, Walmart, Home Depot and Sephora accomplished amazing things on mobile this year, entertaining, informing and, of course, spurring sales, which is why they top the list of Mobile Commerce Awards winners this year.

With mobile traffic and sales growing significantly during the recent holiday season at the same time that mobile’s influence on in-store sales has never been greater, this year’s Mobile Commerce Awards winners clearly have a firm grasp on how shopping is evolving and have forward-looking strategies in place to address mobile’s growing role.

The Mobile Retailer of the Year is the most prestigious honor for smart, strategic and creative use of the mobile medium by a retailer. EBay won in 2009, Sears took top prize in 2011, Walmart received the honor in 2012, Target came out on top in 2010 and 2013 while Macy’s walked home with the award in 2014.

  • Mobile Retailer of the Year: Starbucks
  • Mobile Commerce Researcher of the Year: Boston Retail Partners

Read full article: Announcing the 2015 Mobile Commerce Awards winners

What is “Customer Context” and why you need to know…

Retailers who understand their customer at the most granular and intimate level will increase the relevance of interactions and improve customer retention and loyalty and increase sales. Do you really know your customers and can you deliver the experience they expect? Customer context is the answer.

Customer Context Defined

CustomerContextImageBRP defines customer context as “the interrelated factors of customer insights and environmental conditions that make the shopping experience relevant.”

With advances in technology (networks, WiFi, mobile, NFC, Beacons, etc.) retailers have the ability to access more customer information than ever before and in real-time. Retailers have the ability to know what a customer has in her closet, what she previously purchased, what she browsed on the Web site and abandoned in her online cart, when she is near your store and even exactly what she is browsing and where within the store.

In addition to customer insights, customer context considers environmental conditions such as current and forecasted weather, time of day, time of year, media (news), social media, traffic, holidays, events, and other conditions that impact a consumer’s purchase decision.

Delivering on Customer Context

Retailers must integrate the customer insight and environmental factors with real-time transactions and inventory data to enable and support real-time retail capabilities that leverage “customer context.”

To be successful, information must be instantly accessible to store associates. Without real-time data, information provided internally and externally is out-of-date and risks being inaccurate and out of context. Retailers must collect, analyze and respond, in real-time, to their customer’s interactions across all touch points.

With real-time customer context, sales associates can offer customer intimacy and enhanced services like guided selling and personalized offers that are relevant to the individual customer.

Real-time Retail is a Top Priority

According to the 2015 POS Benchmarking Survey, nearly 50% of the retailers indicated that real-time retail was one of their top three priorities.

BRP Special Report COVER - Real-time RetailAs reported in BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Real-time Retail – The New Retail Imperative, retailers are focused on leveraging “customer context” to provide customers enhanced experiences:

  • 280% more retailers plan to provide suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchases within three years
  • 361% more retailers plan to offer promotions based on the customer’s geographic proximity within five years
  • 107% more retailers plan to have real-time inventory available at the POS within three years
  • 157% more retailers plan to implement real-time analytics within five years

Is your organization ready to leverage customer context?

As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this topic.  Please enter your comments and ideas below.


Seeking Retailers’ Opinions – BRP E-Commerce Benchmark Survey

Nearly all retailers have an e-commerce presence and consumers expect it. Consumers typically visit a retailer’s Website for product research and comparison before they ultimately make their purchase either online, in the store or on their phone. E-Commerce and m-commerce continues to be a high growth opportunity for retailers and we are keen to learn how retailers are approaching e-commerce in their organization.

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) is pleased to announce that our E-Commerce Benchmark Survey is now available and we need your help!

This survey seeks to understand retailers’ current e-commerce and digital commerce priorities and initiatives as the retail industry continues its transformation into the digital world. The survey is now open to all qualified retailers, please take a few moments and share your thoughts on this important topic.

This brief survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and covers the following e-commerce topics:Suvey Checkboxes with Computer Mouse 01

  • E-Commerce priorities and initiatives
  • E-commerce technology
  • Website strategies
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Unified commerce capabilities
  • Mobile
  • Payments

Please share your opinions:

Our E-Commerce Benchmark Survey is open now so please take a few minutes and give us your thoughts today:


As a bonus, all qualified retailers completing the survey receive the survey report before it is released to the public and are eligible for a 30-minute complimentary post-survey briefing with Boston Retail Partners!

The results of the survey will be compiled and analyzed and we will release the final report in late August.

We appreciate your input!


Is Real-time Retail the New Retail Imperative?

According to the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Real-time Retail – The New Retail Imperative, nearly 50% of retailers indicate that real-time retail is one of their top three priorities!

BRP Special Report COVER - Real-time RetailToday’s consumers expect a seamless experience across channels – in the store, on the Web and via their mobile device – which requires retailers to deliver a “real-time” shopping experience to meet these elevated demands.

Real-time retail is the ability to deliver a holistic experience to consumers whenever, wherever or however they choose to shop by gathering, analyzing and disseminating customer, product, pricing and inventory data across all channels – in real-time. This enables retailers to leverage “customer context,” which we define as the interrelated factors of customer insights and environmental conditions, to make the shopping experience relevant.

This special report highlights key findings from recent BRP surveys validating retailers’ commitment to implementing real-time retail by leveraging a unified commerce platform and other innovative technologies, including:

  • 76% of retailers plan to provide suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchases within three years
  • 83% of the respondents plan to offer promotions based on the customer’s geographic proximity within five years
  • 91% of the respondents plan to have real-time inventory available at the POS within three years
  • 95% of retailers plan to implement real-time analytics within five years

Download the report here: BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Real-time Retail – The New Retail Imperative

I think you will find this report interesting.

You may also like to read this report: 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey

As always, I encourage your opinions and comments on this report.  Please share your comments below.


BRP 2015 CRM SURVEY: Customer Experience/Engagement is #1 CRM Priority for Retailers

In Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of the top North American retailers, respondents indicated that their top CRM priority was enhancing the customer experience/engagement.


Retailers are responding to consumers’ heightened expectations for a personalized, seamless experience wherever, whenever and however they shop. Retailers understand that customer relationship management (CRM) is an essential enabler and key to influencing customer behaviors with contextual and personalized experiences across channels.

Closed-loop CRM Program

ACRM Circle successful CRM program is built on a closed-loop system that begins by identifying customers to establish new relationships, followed by engaging with customers in compelling ways such as gamification that enhance the customer experience, then analyzing customer behaviors in real-time, and finally, retaining customers with superior service and loyalty programs. This continuous loop is essential for retailers to cultivate valuable customer relationships.

The findings of the 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Survey identified that retailers are focused on the key aspects of CRM that will enhance the customer’s shopping experience across channels and increase sales. The key findings of the survey are:

Identify the Customer – 883% more retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store within five years.

Engage the Customer – 74% of retailers indicate that customer experience/engagement is one of their top three CRM priorities.

Analyze the Customer – 100% of the retailers surveyed plan to utilize analytics/dashboard to understand customer purchases and shopping behaviors within two years.

Retain the Customer – 46% of retailers indicate that a structured loyalty program is one of their top three CRM priorities.

Special thanks to the silver sponsors of this year’s CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey: Enactor and Epicor.

I encourage you to read the complete survey report for additional insights on retailers’ top priorities and how they are focused on improving the customer experience.

Download Now: 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey

As always, I welcome your thoughts and opinions. Please share your comments below.


Within 5 Years, 75% of Retailers Plan to Identify Customers when they Walk in the Store

Unified Commerce is the evolution of both multi-channel and omni-channel retailing that provides a
seamless experience in the store, on the Web or anywhere customers choose to shop. The key Unified Commerce initiatives, such as enhancing customer engagement, collecting and analyzing customer behavior, and personalizing the experience, are the top priorities for retailers, as evidenced by the results from the Boston Retail Partners 1st Annual CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey.

The 2014 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North CRM Study ReportAmerican retailers offers insights into retailers’ current state and planned initiatives, priorities, and future trends that relate to customer relationship management (CRM) practices associated with the retail industry’s shift to Unified Commerce.

Many retailers are now focused on implementing the technologies to deliver Unified Commerce, but there is still a lot of work to be done to deliver these capabilities. Delivering Unified Commerce requires seamless execution of the right strategy, technology, and business processes.

To deliver the seamless experience, retailers need to gather, analyze and disseminate customer, product, pricing and inventory data in real-time.  Leveraging technology, Unified Commerce provides the platform and real-time retail is key to delivering the experience. Retailers that successfully deliver Unified Commerce will understand and adopt a ‘unified’ approach for: strategic customer initiatives, technology, business processes and execution.

Key Survey Results

  • 95% of the respondents indicated customer experience/ customer engagement is one of their top three current initiatives
  • 3% have the ability to identify the customer when she walks in the store, and another 72% plan to implement this within five years
  • 16% currently have real-time retail from POS (which offers the “Amazon” experience in the store) and another 63% plan to implement within five years
  • 28% currently use mobile marketing and another 62% plan to implement this within five years (56% plan to implement mobile marketing within two years)
  • 81% have implemented some type of customer database, typically as part of a CRM or loyalty platform
  • 22% of retailers have implemented real-time analytics and 61% plan to implement it within two years.

To download the complete 2014 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey: Click Here!

CRM Study Graph1