"How do I even begin to deliver a seamless customer experience?"

Omni Channel Pain Point No. 3

December 2014

How do I even begin to deliver a seamless customer experience?
Omnichannel retailing…we’ve heard this term over and over this past year and it really comes down to one core deliverable…a seamless customer experience. But how do you begin to deliver this in an industry that has been turned upside down by technology, processes and, above all, by how the customer is shopping…how they want, when they want, and on what channels they prefer? How do retailers, especially those with both physical brick and mortar locations and online channels deliver this seamless “omnichannel” experience across locations, systems, departments and the supply chain? Below are some areas retailers can look to improve on in order to begin to deliver a seamless customer experience.

1. In-Store Technology:

For the traditional retailer, this is where it all began. Kurt Mensh from Honeywell described the retail store as “…a place where customers can see, evaluate, and experience the products and services representing a retailer’s brand.” But when the customer leaves because the item is not in-stock, the retail experience has failed. In-store associates need to be armed with technology that allows them to assist customers by locating out-of-stock inventory at nearby stores or on their website so they can, not only, save the purchase but deliver an experience the customer will remember…and hopefully share with their peers and social networks.

2. Cross-Channel Inventory Visibility:

Like the in-store technology needs, retailers need to have systems in place that allow every department, every store associate, every customer service agent and every customer to see what stock is available on each channel, at what locations and how and when the item can be fulfilled. What is important here is that this information must be accessible in real-time across the organization. Only then, can a retailer deliver on their promise of a true omnichannel experience.

The customer knows that they have the option to either, place an order online and have it shipped directly to them, or because in-store inventory is visible online, a customer can place an order online (or reserve depending on the business model) and then pick-up at their local store. This can only occur if the inventory management system that manages the online website is connected to the retail store POS system, or better yet, is the same inventory management system.

3. 360-Degree Customer View:

How many times have you called to inquire about an order and the customer service agent cannot access your order or access the information you need? Or maybe you walked into a store to return an item you bought online only to be told that this is not possible because the retail store and online store are actually different systems, or even different businesses, in some cases?

We’ve heard this concern from retailers time and time again this past year. Your customer service team needs to be able to access orders and customer information from multiple channels very easily, and more importantly, from one system. Customer service agents and in-store associates need the ability to add items to any order, update payment information, search inventory, access shipping information, and even be able to recommend additional, relevant items. And do it at the customer’s convenience.

Ivy Chin, SVP eCommerce & Omnichannel Digital at Belk stated in an article on Integrated Solutions for Retailers that, “Customers have come to expect retailers to provide personalized experiences, showing them things that are relevant to them. If retailers don’t have this capability, customers will choose to shop with those retailers who can provide them the better experience.”

If these are areas your retail business is struggling with, look at your current systems to see how you can consolidate processes, data or even systems.

For tips on how to evaluate your existing system check out the first post in this monthly blog series: “Dealing with my outdated system has become a chore”.

Learn how SalesWarp helps retailers deliver a seamless customer experience.