Retailers need to invest in new technology to make their supply chains agile, deliver seamless omnichannel customer experiences, build customer loyalty and stay ahead of the competition.
May 02, 2021Ed. Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Retail TouchPoints.
The fundamental shift in retail to mixed digital commerce has created several hurdles for retailers who are still clinging to traditional blueprints. At a time when brand interactions combine digital and physical shopping, it is becoming increasingly important for retailers to use technology to improve customer experience and create value. Here are a few examples of how technology improves the customer experience and strengthens brand equity.
Modern warehouse and production management systems for product adaptation
With the advent of individualism, modern customers are now looking for bespoke products that are directly related to their lifestyle. A study by Deloitte found that customers are willing to pay 20 percent more than standard equivalents for custom products. Thanks to modern warehouse and production management systems, retailers can now meet individual customer requirements. With these systems, retailers can produce customized products to scale for each customer from a warehouse. For example, customers can create unique color options for a pair of trainers or add personalized text.
Enabling consumers to customize their orders creates a personalized customer experience for retailers and ultimately excites customers as they design products that meet their needs. Customization also helps retailers create an emotional connection with their customers through co-creation and improves customer loyalty.
Distributed order management technology for a unified customer experience
Customers expect a seamless omnichannel shopping experience that enables them to shop anywhere and pick up anywhere with the lowest cost and hassle. However, for omnichannel fulfillment to be successful, an up-to-the-minute view of inventory availability across all channels is required. This is where DOM (Distributed Order Management) technology comes into play.
In contrast to static traditional order management systems that offer a limited inventory overview, DOM unifies different inventory pools across all channels and locations to give retailers insight into the inventory to be promised at suitable fulfillment locations and guarantees that what is promised to customers can be delivered. This creates a unified omnichannel experience that customers love because products ordered online are available for pickup in-store. The ability to consistently deliver on customer promises improves the retail customer experience, builds trust, and strengthens brand equity because customers know they can count on a retailer to deliver what they need.
Store fulfillment technology for flexible fulfillment
As customers continue to demand convenient, free delivery, large retailers like Target are leveraging existing branch networks to offer flexible fulfillment options. However, efficiently fulfilling orders from stores can be challenging due to inaccuracies in inventory. 66 percent of retail executives surveyed by HRC Retail Advisory say that inventory inaccuracies cause their “buy online, in-store pickup” (BOPIS) offers to be inconsistent.
One technology that helps retailers manage inventory efficiently is a store fulfillment solution. Such solutions improve the accuracy of inventory availability and enable retailers to efficiently choose from inventory while keeping the available inventory 100 percent accurate. This enables flexible fulfillment such as BOPIS and “Buy online, pick up at the roadside” in a time-efficient manner.
Store fulfillment solutions also allow sales reps to quickly locate inventory and prepare it for delivery. Store fulfillment solutions make omnichannel shopping a pleasant experience for customers, as they can shop on their terms and satisfy their need for faster, free and convenient fulfillment.
Distributed order management system for order routing
Fast delivery remains an area of vital importance for customers. Fifty-five percent of consumers switch to a competitor if they offer faster service, according to a report from Capgemini. Distributed Order Management (DOM) systems enable retailers to meet customer demands for faster fulfillment. DOM ensures fast delivery by determining the cheapest and most efficient shipping location to fulfill an order. This could be the store closest to the customer or a distribution center with the largest volume of products.
The ability to intelligently route orders leads to a more positive post-purchase experience as customers can complete their orders accurately and quickly. Fast delivery delights customers, improves the customer experience in retail and promotes customer loyalty. With DOM, retailers can also control shipping waste in packaging and reduce the carbon footprint over the last mile by routing and consolidating orders. By making the last mile environmentally friendly, retailers are creating a great customer experience for customers who are sustainability minded while meeting their financial goals.
In addition, DOM has delivery management capabilities that retailers can use to offer personalized home delivery, such as: B. White glove services and on-time delivery at home with vehicles and staff owned by retailers. For example, a customer who purchases a home theater online can select white gloved delivery when ordering and set a convenient date for delivery of the order.
By offering this type of personalized experience, the customer is in control of the transaction and the shopping experience is pleasant as customers receive their orders according to their priorities. Overall, DOM enables retailers to exceed standard delivery expectations, improve the retail customer experience, and build customer loyalty.
Conference calls for a seamless digital retail experience
Despite the recent surge in digital adoption, the human touch remains an integral part of the retail shopping experience. One technology that retailers can use to reflect the human connection in the store is conference calls using live video technology.
Conference calls allow brands to offer contactless advice and interact with customers from anywhere, taking into account the need for social distancing. For example, Gucci cultivates customer relationships by setting up a “faux-luxury store” at its Gucci 9 hub in Florence, where store staff live streams from a replica showroom and send items to the camera via mobile phones or laptops on customer request pulls.
Using conference calls, retailers provide customers with personalized, high-touch interactions, bespoke customer support, and a human connection that customers love. This translates into fewer customer service-related issues and more repeat business for retailers.
Augmented Reality for a seamless customer experience in digital retail
Modern consumers’ desire for real-world experiences is gradually pushing augmented reality (AR) into retail. AR overlays digitally created content in the real environment of a user. The overlaid computer-generated images change the perception of what a user sees in front of them, and 51 percent of consumers are ready to use AR technology to evaluate products.
In retail, AR technology enables customers to visualize products on a smartphone or on a website before buying them. This enhances the digital shopping experience by providing customers with a rich and interactive experience. For example, IKEA’s AR app allows shoppers to virtually preview what a piece of furniture would look like in their homes before making a purchase.
As a result, customers can use AR to make personalized product choices and informed purchasing decisions wherever they are. This reduces the friction on the way to shopping, makes shopping an exciting experience for customers and leads to increased satisfaction. AR offers retailers new ways to offer customers new and exciting value propositions, differentiate themselves from the competition, and build customer loyalty.
Let technology be your secret weapon
In a world where customers are not short of choice, technology will play an important role in how retailers meet customer needs. Retailers need to invest in technology to make their supply chain agile, deliver seamless omnichannel customer experiences, build customer loyalty, and stay ahead of the competition.
Laurie McGrath serves as the chief marketing officer at Tecsys, a global software company specializing in supply chain and omnichannel commerce. She brings over 20 years of leadership experience and deep expertise into the supply chains and the technologies that power them. McGrath is passionate about brand messaging and customer experience, as well as using the levers of digital marketing to drive business results.