“Customer centricity”: is now a reality in the service of sales performance
Customer behavior has changed over the past two years. For 80% of the retailers surveyed, more than half of their customers changed their buying habits in a sustainable way. Also the notion of “customer centricity”, which has been virtually invisible in practice for a long time (strategies primarily established with commercial and financial goals) has taken on a new dimension. From now on, customer satisfaction is the strategic common thread; the commercial and financial performance that emerges as a result of customer satisfaction.
On the podium of customer satisfaction standards, “fluidity” and “image consistency” (brand-adapted journeys) are in good place, but the first step is coming. in the “choice”: the choice of assortment, the choice of sales channel, the choice of provision, the choice of payment method …
Unified commerce: a target yet to be reached
Offering choice, in all its dimensions, is one of the promises of unified commerce. Most retailers invest heavily in this topic, however, making a shared reception: Unified commerce remains a medium to long-term goal, as there are still serious hurdles in the future.
Barriers mentioned include: organizations too divided between “brick & mortar” and “digital”, different types between channels, difficulty in developing staff towards a new customer relationship, others different means of payment between channels, regulations on perpetual evolution and, first obstacle to change, an information system that is too strict and too closed.
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And in fact, IT projects represent a large portion of current investments. The following are specifically mentioned: new collection and payment systems, “RCU” (Unique Customer Repository), “PIM” (Product Repository), “OMS” (omnichannel orchestration of customer orders and the provision of product) and “APIsation” (evolution of systems to streamline and simplify the exchange of information internally and externally) …
The customer experience: taking inspiration from the strengths of each channel
Gone are the days when we thought e-commerce would replace stores. It’s great now that these channels are not competitors, but complementary, and preferably that they carry mutual value. Based on this observation, all brands developed their omnichannel strategy, an important lever for unified commerce.
The first challenge of the omnichannel strategy is to ensure a smooth and seamless journey. That is, allow a customer to change the channel at each stage of a purchase journey, easily and without wasting time. This issue has been integrated into brands ’strategies for several years, and continues to be the subject of major IT developments.
The second challenge is to enhance the omnichannel experience by offering the best on the web in store, and vice versa. Although variable depending on brands, there are differences in services (or levels of services) between channels: for example, the return of a product to the store may be denied if the product is purchased on the website; or even e-commerce offers payment methods that are not in stores.
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However, even if we recognize the compatibility of channels, each channel must individually offer an optimized experience so as not to overwhelm the customer or degrade his or her experience.
Improving the digital channel (web/app) experience, fueled by the vital need to combat the invasion of pure gamers, has been accelerated by the crisis to fill the gaps of a pure virtual journey, and continues to be applicable to those. advantages of the store experience: online demonstrations, sales chat, virtual and augmented reality, fast availability, personalized searches, etc.
Regarding the physical channel (store), inertia is naturally stronger. The search for return on investment and the complexity associated with change management represent the most obvious obstacles. However, retailers are recognizing the role and importance of the store as the physical touchpoint in omnichannel travel, and re-investing in the attractiveness of the store. From innovating the past to creating new concepts, projects are evolving to incorporate omnichannel requirements, while drawing inspiration from the strengths of e-commerce to enrich the experience: empowering the customer journey ( “san & go”), simplified payment (e.g .: 1-click), rich product information, search for item in store (in-store localization), reduction (or even loss) of payment spaces, etc.
And in 10 years?
For some retailers, unified commerce is already a result. For others, the outlook is an ultra-fluid journey, with its own loss of buying action. But everyone has the same belief: it will need to have ten times the ability to listen to customers and predict their expectations, and an exemplary agility to respond to them without delay.