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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.

David

Why are Retailers Laser Focused on Unified Commerce?

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. This blog post highlights the key findings.

Retail is more complicated than ever! 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.

“The customer journey can be simple or complex and can be different for each customer and each individual purchase. It’s not important that what 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.”

 

2016 Unified Commerce Report CoverKey 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

Download the complete survey report:  2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey

A special thanks goes out to all of the sponsors of the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey: Aptos (platinum), Experian Data Quality (gold), Fujitsu (gold), Manhattan Associates (gold), NCR (gold), PCMS (gold), Radial (gold), and Enactor (silver).

As always, I appreciate your feedback on the this survey report.  I hope you enjoy it!

David

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: https://brpconsulting.com/2016-pos-survey/.

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

David

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

A Consistent Brand Experience Across Channels is Retailers’ Top E-Commerce Priority

Customers expect a personalized, seamless brand experience across digital and physical commerce touch points and unified commerce is key to delivering this experience. This is the new mantra in retail, according to the 2015 E-Commerce Survey, 43% of the respondents indicated that a consistent brand experience across channels is one of their top commerce priorities. A customer’s journey is no longer a linear path to purchase it’s now an exercise in connect-the-dots for retailers as they try to piece together customer information, browsing history, inventory visibility and much more to enhance the customer experience.

Retailers realize that that they can no longer operate from within silos, and the convergence of digital and physical commerce is now a retail imperative. Unified commerce transcends channels and enables store associates to personalize the experience to a customer based on her digital footprint.

Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 E-Commerce Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current e-commerce initiatives, priorities, and future trends as the retail industry continues its transformation into the digital world.

Key findings in the 2015 E-Commerce Benchmark Survey include:E-Commerce Survey Cover

  • Improving the customer experience is the top priority – 43% of retailers indicating that a consistent brand experience across channels is essential
  • A unified commerce platform is critical – 78% of retailers will have a unified commerce platform implemented within 5 years
  • Mobilizing commerce remains a high priority – 45% of retailers indicated that mobile websites are their most important e-commerce capability
  • Payment options and security are essential – 63% of retailers plan to accept Apple Pay within 2 years
  • E-commerce continues to expand – 85% of retailers expect an increase in 2016 e-commerce website revenue

To download the complete 2015 E-Commerce Benchmark Survey, visit: https://brpconsulting.com/2015-e-commerce-survey

As always, I encourage your thoughts on this topic.  Please share your comments below.

David

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.

Ken

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:

TAKE SURVEY HERE

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!

David

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.

David

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.

TopCRMPriorities

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.

David

Nearly 300% more retailers plan to deploy mobile POS in two years

BRP_Special_Report_-_Mobile_TechnologyMobile devices have become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers, dramatically changing how they shop. According to a November 2014 report by comScore, Inc., 182 million people in the U.S. own smartphones, which is a 74.9 percent mobile market penetration.[1] Having a constant, virtually unlimited amount of information at their fingertips has changed consumers’ shopping behavior and elevated their expectation for customer service. Consumers now use mobile devices to research products, compare prices, complete purchases online and increasingly to pay for in-store purchases.

The proliferation of tablets and mobile phones has also created new opportunities for retailers to enhance customer service. Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates enables inventory look-up (enterprise-wide) even for products not immediately available, supports the associate providing assistance to the customer on the selling floor and enables transaction processing anywhere in the store.

To better understand the actual impact mobile devices are having on retail, Boston Retail Partners (BRP) surveyed the top North American retailers to explore the current state of how mobile technology is shaping retail capabilities, priorities and processes. In the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Technology – Transforming the Customer Experience we explored several key findings that validate the significant impact of mobile devices on store operations and how they are changing retail as we know it.

This special report explores how mobile devices are impacting retail in three key areas:287 Percent Increase in Mobile POS

  • Mobile POS – utilizing a mobile device as the checkout device
    • Nearly 300% more retailers plan to deploy mobile POS in the next two years
  • Customer-facing mobile services – leveraging mobile devices to enhance the shopping experience
    • Approximately 200% more retailers plan to use geolocation within three years
  • Mobile payment – utilizing a customer’s smartphone as a payment device
    • 350% more retailers plan to support NFC payments by October 2015

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: 

BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Technology – Transforming the Customer Experience

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

David


[1] ecomScore Reports December 2014 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share, February 9, 2015, http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Market-Rankings/comScore-Reports-December-2014-US-Smartphone-Subscriber-Market-Share

1060% More Retailers will Personalize the Shopping Experience based on Customers’ Online Browsing History in 3 years

Checking the price tag of a blouseMillennial’s shopping habits are going mainstream and consumers are becoming more demanding – driven by new technology and the real-time capabilities it enables. A customer can be shopping at a store for a specific model of computer, take a photo and get instant access to prices from multiple competitors and the closest store that has it in stock – in real-time. Consumers expect a seamless experience in the store, on the Web or anywhere she chooses to shop. This is why “real-time retail” is the new imperative.

Real-time retail is the ability to deliver a seamless experience to a consumer whenever, wherever or however she chooses to shop by gathering, analyzing and disseminating customer, product, pricing and inventory data across all channels – instantly.

According to BRP’s recent 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, retailers are focused on expanding their real-time capabilities to deliver the enhanced services their customers now expect.

1060_Percent_BoldReal-time Features Enhance the Shopping Experience

Retailers that can provide associates with customer data in real-time before checkout are able to provide a more personalized experience and can offer suggestions to customers that impact their purchase decisions. According to our survey respondents, 510% more retailers will know what is in their customers closet and provide this information to sales associates in real-time. In addition, personalizing the shopping experience by understanding the customer’s online browsing history will increase by 1060% over the next three years (from 5% today to 58% in three years).

Personalized Pricing174 Percent Bold

In the past, retailers’ pricing hierarchy was based on various levels: company, division, channel, zone and store. Now there is a new pricing strategy and structure at the personal level – based on individual shoppers. According to our survey, 174% more retailers will be offering personalized promotions/pricing in the next three years. Now that’s one-to-one marketing.

 

Tayloring the Customer ExperienceIt is impressive to see more retailers understanding the value of real-time retail and working to provide these capabilities to their sales associates. I hope the reality in three years is close to what retailers plan to achieve.

I encourage you to read the complete survey report for additional insights on retailers’ top priorities.

Download Now: 2015 POS/Customer engagement Benchmarking Survey

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

Ken