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Unified Commerce Is Essential to Meeting Customer Expectations

CRM Magazine – To keep up with consumers’ habits and expectations, retailers must move to a unified commerce model that allows people to shop whenever, wherever, and however they want, BRP (retail consulting firm) concludes in a recent report. But to do this, they must first achieve “the five Es” of customer experience: educate, engage, execute, enhance, and enable.

“To deliver the five ‘Es’ of customer experience, the most successful retailers have transitioned their business processes, development, and delivery processes to enable agile and similar methodologies,” says Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This transformation to an agile approach enables retailers to react at a pace that allows them to stay ahead of the rapidly changing demands of their consumers. Retailers are changing their core engagement systems to a much more flexible micro-service framework that allows for rapid change in smaller increments.”

Read full article: Unified Commerce Is Essential to Meeting Customer Expectations

A Personalized Brand Experience Across Digital Channels is Imperative

Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in different channels, including online marketplaces and social media, and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, both online and in the store. Consumers don’t think in terms of channels, they think in terms of brands and experiences.

According to the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand.

The good news is that retailers recognize the importance of the cross-channel, personalized customer experience, as their top digital customer experience priorities are creating a consistent brand experience across channels (57%) and improving personalization (38%).

The challenge for retailers is to “keep up” with continually evolving customer expectations. The growth of mobile is driving demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization in the store. The gap between consumer demand for digital experiences and retailers’ current capabilities is what we call the “great digital divide,” and is driving additional changes in the industry.

The new retail model requires retailers to transform their business and reinvent themselves to create a successful blend of the physical and digital worlds to maintain their customers’ loyalty. New and innovative methods of shopping – driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence and rapidly changing fulfillment methods – are elevating customer expectations. The speed of these changes requires organizational agility to quickly and easily react to increasing customer expectations and changing consumer behavior.

I encourage you to download and read the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey for more insights on the cross channel digital experience:

Download Now

As always, I appreciate your insights on this topic.  Please share your feedback and opinions below.

 

Jeffrey

Shopping experiences must be personalized across channels: BRP

Luxury Daily – As the lines between physical and digital stores continues to blur, retailers need to personalize shopping experiences beyond in-store and continue to create consistent brand experiences online.

A new report from Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm, finds that 51 percent of consumers want a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand. Currently, less than a fifth of retailers use customer-identifying technology in their stores, pointing to the potential for more customized engagement.

“To engage with the customer and personalize their experience, retailers need to quickly and easily identify the customer,” Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners. “Identifying the customer as they enter the store – via their smartphone, beacon or other technology – affords the retailer the opportunity to personalize the customer’s shopping experience.”

Three-quarters of consumers use digital tools prior to their in-store visit, and 46 percent use mobile devices while shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores. Almost a quarter of retailers surveyed named improving mobile shopping experiences as their top priority.

Creating a consistent brand experience across channels is the top digital priority for retailers, and was named as a focus by 57 percent of respondents. Thirty-eight percent of retailers also cited wanting to improve customer loyalty, personalization and user experience.

However, retailers cannot improve personalization efforts without first identifying individual shoppers. Seventy-nine percent of respondents plan to introduce technology to better identify customers within the next three years, while 76 percent plan to integrate geolocation to improve how promotions are sent to customers.

Read Full Article: Shopping experiences must be personalized across channels: BRP

51% of Consumers Want a Personalized Brand Experience Across Digital Channels, According to BRP Report

Retailers’ Top Digital Customer Experience Priorities are Creating a Consistent Brand Experience Across Channels and Improving Personalization 

Boston, MA – October 24, 2018– Customers’ journeys are more complicated and varied than ever before. Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in different channels, including online marketplaces and social media, and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, both online and in the store. According to the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand. Retailers recognize the importance of the cross-channel, personalized customer experience, as their top digital customer experience priorities are creating a consistent brand experience across channels (57%) and improving personalization (38%).

“The new retail model requires retailers to transform their business and reinvent themselves to create a successful blend of the physical and digital worlds to maintain their customers’ loyalty,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “New and innovative methods of shopping – driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence and rapidly changing fulfillment methods – are elevating customer expectations. The speed of these changes requires organizational agility to quickly and easily react to increasing customer expectations and changing consumer behavior.”

The challenge for retailers is to “keep up” with continually evolving customer expectations. The growth of mobile is driving demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization in the store. The gap between consumer demand for digital experiences and retailers’ current capabilities is what we call the “great digital divide,” and is driving additional changes in the industry.

BRP conducted the 2018 Digital Commerce Benchmarking Survey to understand the current retail challenges and available opportunities as we face the future of retail. This report compares retailers’ priorities with customer expectations – based on results from Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report[1]conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise – to understand how retailer priorities are aligning with customer expectations.

Key findings include:

  1. Personalization – Effective customer engagement requires retailers to know whom the customer is to be able to offer personalized, relevant, compelling and consistent services across channels.
  • 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand
  • 18% of retailers are currently utilizing customer identifying technology in the store and within three years, 79% plan to use it to personalize the experience
  1. Digital Influence – Retailers realize that mobile devices are ubiquitous and recognize that a mobile device in the customer’s hands holds tremendous opportunities to enhance the customer experience across channels.
  • 75% of consumers use digital tools prior to their in-store visit and mobile devices are leveraged in 46% of in-store shopping experiences
  • 67% of retailers provide online customer reviews to influence and drive purchases and 76% will extend mobile offers to customers in the store within three years
  1. Augmented Reality – Through augmented reality (AR), innovative retailers are inspiring their customers and offering them the ability to see what a product looks like in their home or even on their body.
  • 48% of consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilizes augmented reality
  • 32% of retailers will utilize augmented reality within three years

To download 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-digital-commerce-survey/

The 2018 Digital Commerce Survey gold sponsors are ECRSand enVista. 

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

[1]Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations, July 24, 2018. https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-retail-research-report/

The store is still a winning strategy. Here’s why

Retail Customer Experience – Physical retail is thriving. The National Retail Federation’s Consumer View report shows nearly four out of five (79 percent) consumers are shopping at brick and mortar stores. This includes millennials and Generation Z. Just 34 percent of these demographics are online-only shoppers.

But simply having a store doesn’t guarantee success. The brands and retailers who succeed will adapt and embrace the changing role of physical retail, and use the store to their advantage. In collecting and analyzing billions of data points across brick and mortar stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, we know a thing or two about what it takes to develop a winning in-store strategy.

Unified commerce is the process of “unifying” many selling channels to provide a cohesive shopping experience and path to purchase. Most (73 percent) of retailers plan to have a unified commerce platform by the end of 2019, according to Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm.

There are many components to unified commerce. The first and most important is marrying pricing and availability of online products with those in-store. Consumers are smart. They don’t want to arrive at a store with one price in their head, only to find a different one on the shelf. Unified pricing and promotions at the micro-level is vital in building and keeping consumer trust.

Products should also be available across channels. This is where brick-and-mortar retailers should consider how online and mobile commerce (m-commerce) fit into or impact the in-store experience. Shoppers should have access to store associates with tablets or free-standing kiosks where they can buy products in the event of an out-of-stock or online-only items. Add signage for buy online, pick up in store and process online returns in a profitable way with buy online, return in store. This is all part of the seamless shopping experience consumers have come to expect.

A seamless shopping experience also means cohesive branding. Match your look and feel, and customer service across all your physical and digital platforms. This includes social media profiles like Instagram, where shoppable posts are gaining global popularity.

Read Full Article: The store is still a winning strategy. Here’s why

Turn Anonymous Customers into Loyal Customers

At what point in the shopping journey do you identify your customers? If it is not until they reach the checkout, you might be in the majority, but that is too late to influence their purchase decisions.

Creating a more personalized shopping experience is one of the highest priorities retailers are facing, and the first step towards that personalization is customer identification.  However, an inability to identify customers early means that most in-store shoppers are essentially anonymous until they check out. According to BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, only 13% of retailers identify customers when they walk in the store and another 10% identify customers pre-checkout. Retailers fare better online, as 30% identify customers when they enter the website and another 30% identify customers pre-checkout.

While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers. Those online experiences have heightened customer expectations for personalization and they now expect the same level of service while shopping in a store. This is a tremendous opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience – turning anonymous shoppers into loyal customers.

The logical question is: How can I identify customers before they get to the checkout? As with most challenges in 2018, there are both technology and business process solutions to address this gap.  From a technology perspective, the most effective solution lies with your customers themselves – the fact that nearly all of them will be walking into your stores with mobile devices. Many retailers are taking advantage of this by using in-store WiFi as a way to capture customer sign-on information, while others are using their mobile app log-ins, or identifying customers by their MAC addresses on those devices. From a process perspective, forward-thinking retailers are providing their associates with mobile devices and placing them on the sales floor in order to increase their engagement with customers and to capture information early in the shopping visit to provide suggestive sell recommendations or other purchase incentives.

Without early identification of the customer, retailers miss critical engagement opportunities, such as clienteling and guided selling, which can increase sales and deliver an enhanced customer experience. Even more concerning is that 20% of retailers still have no ability to identify their customers in the store, even at checkout, which eliminates any opportunities for improving the post-purchase experience or customer loyalty.

Are you identifying your customers early and personalizing their shopping experience? What ways have you found most effective for capturing customer information?

As always, I am interested in your opinions on this topic.  Please share your comments below.

Ryan

Retailers’ in-store customer identification efforts are lagging

Chain Store Age – Customer identification is the first step to personalizing the shopping experience, yet most customers remain anonymous until they check out. Only 13% of retailers identify customers when they walk in the store, and another 10% identify customers pre-checkout, according to the “2018 Customer Experience/ Unified Commerce Survey” from Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm.

“While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, senior VP, Boston Retail Partners.

“Those online experiences have heightened customer expectations for personalization and they now expect the same level of service while shopping in a store,” he added. “This is a tremendous opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience – and turn anonymous shoppers into loyal customers.”

Read full article: Retailers’ in-store customer identification efforts are lagging

Customer Identification Key to Creating Personalized Shopping

Convenience Store Decisions – BRP finds customer identification in the store continues to challenge most retailers. How well do you know your customers? Customer identification is the first step necessary to personalize the shopping experience, yet most in-store shoppers are anonymous until they check out.

According to BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, only 13% of retailers identify customers when they walk in the store and another 10% identify customers pre-checkout. Retailers fare better online, as 30% identify customers when they enter the website and another 30% identify customers pre-checkout.

“While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president, BRP, retail consulting firm. “Those online experiences have heightened customer expectations for personalization and they now expect the same level of service while shopping in a store. This is tremendous opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience – turning anonymous shoppers into loyal customers.”

Read Full Article: Customer Identification Key to Creating Personalized Shopping

More retailers use AI to improve customer service

Chain Store Age – Retailers are increasingly applying artificial intelligence (AI) to better personalize customer service initiatives, and momentum is increasing. Fifty five percent of retailers plan to leverage AI technology within three years, and applications will vary, according to the “2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey,” from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) retail consulting firm.

AI’s ability to learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention makes it a credible option to improve customer service. Some retailers use it to offer purchasing suggestions based on customer responses to a series of questions. Others use it to pinpoint the most convenient time of day to reach out to consumers with product suggestions, which are also based on past clicks and website visit data.

While chatbots can be a useful customer service tool, some consumers may not know if they are talking to a real person or a bot until they’ve already entered the interaction. Without transparency, that lack of clarity may also turn off some consumers.

“Transparency is a big discussion for AI. Do you want the customer to think they’re speaking with a real human being or should you disclose that this is a conversation with Watson or some other AI technology,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior VP and practice lead, BRP. “That’s a decision retailers have to make right now, as AI using voice is probably going to mess up the conversation at some point, and the customer is going to realize that they’re talking to a computer.”

Read Full Article: More retailers use AI to improve customer service

BRP Consulting’s Agile Approach for Retail Helps Accelerate Business Transformation

BRP’s Agile Approach can Achieve 50% Faster Implementation Times

Boston, MA – September 13, 2018– BRP announces the availability of its innovative Agile Approach for Retail that helps retailers deploy software up to 50% faster than traditional efforts.  Retail is rapidly being redefined. With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their organization, business processes and technology to align with the demands of their customers.  With its Agile Approach for Retail, BRP is uniquely positioned to help forward-thinking retailers adopt this accelerated and flexible method for tackling enterprise projects.

BRP’s Agile Approach for Retail enables organizations to get to market faster by encouraging cross-organizational teamwork, collaboration and adaptability, all while ensuring better organizational ownership and more efficient adoption of newly implemented solutions. With significantly faster project completion times, retailers reduce the associated risks and costs throughout the lifecycle of the project. BRP resources are trained in Agile methodologies and have hands-on experience in supporting organizations as they make the necessary structural shift in the way team members and management work and communicate with one another.

“Adopting an Agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands. With traditional implementation approaches, requirements need to be defined 12-18 months before implementation, but an Agile approach allows retailers to easily shift requirements during project implementation to match today’s and tomorrow’s customer demands,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “As retailers are pressured to do more with less and quickly adapt to new retail realities, an Agile approach to technology and operations, has become a new retail imperative.”

Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure that they’re always working on the latest and most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers increase their return on investment while delivering high quality products that meet and exceed customer demands via Agile’s emphasis on small value-added increments. By implementing an Agile mindset and providing team members with a collaborative environment where they’re empowered to innovate and learn from their mistakes, retailers are taking the right steps towards surviving the retail transformation.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.