Ecommerce software to enhance the customer experience
In the past, retail channels were solitary and operated independently of each other. This meant that the customer experience could vary from channel to channel. Inventory offered through one channel was reserved for that specific channel, while customer information, product data, sales data and other important metrics were generally also unique to that specific sales channel.
However, the modern customer is no longer viewing retail in terms of specific destinations – they are channel agnostic (i.e. an omnichannel shopper), preferring to shop via the most convenient way possible. Whether by online marketplaces, mobile devices, tablets, in-store or anything in between, customers have more options to shop than ever before and it’s critical that retailers are using the right eCommerce software that can help them deliver a seamless omnichannel shopping experience .
A recent report from PwC deemed this as the “total retail” experience although many merchants refer to it as the omnichannel shopping experience . The study, which surveyed more than 15,000 online shoppers, revealed several expectations of customers that modern retailers must meet if they want to be successful.
“Consumers now view multichannel shopping as a given, and the costs and complexities of managing a multichannel model are too great and offer too few rewards to benefit the customer experience,” explained Steven Barr, PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer practice leader. “Today’s non-stop shoppers have taken things into their own hands, becoming more tech-savvy than retailers. Consumers have the tools at their fingertips to immerse themselves into the retail brand.”
Here are three of the expectations addressed in the PwC report.
1. Personalized shopping experience
By leveraging eCommerce software that consolidates data from multiple channels into one place, merchants can personalize the shopping experience to their customers, which is a huge plus. Big data and predictive analysis allows merchants to create relevant coupons, customize item bundles, offer specific item suggestions and otherwise tailor the shopping experience to customers on an individual level.
Obviously making the best use of this data can be a significant challenge, not only because it requires a significant investment into feature-rich eCommerce software but also because it demands a robust security system to protect the data of customers.
2. Consistency across channels
If shoppers are channel agnostic, retailers must be as well. This means offering the same shopping experience regardless of their customers’ shopping method or platform of choice. This should span across all back-end operations (sales, product management, pricing, inventory management) as well as more customer-facing elements (website design and branding). The customer experience should be the same on every channel they shop on.
The keywords here are “seamless and consistent” – in the past, many merchants have gone against this notion by setting different prices online or having channel-specific sales.
3. Real-time information for a better customer experience
Because people can shop at any time from any channel, retailers must do a better job at providing their customers with real-time information.
For example, if someone is looking to make a last-minute purchase and are browsing a retailer’s website, they should be able to see if the item in question is available in a nearby brick-and-mortar store.
Being able to deliver on this end will require retailers to make successful use of their eCommerce software to ensure they have a real-time look into their inventory and supply chain. If customers know all of their options, they can make better purchase decisions, which greatly enhances the shopping experience.
Several other industry experts fully expect merchants to embrace the omnichannel future. According to Procurement Leaders, the big hurdle right now is integrating the eCommerce software required to deliver such a shopping experience, but as merchants become more familiar with technology, they are expected to have more success in that regard.