John had a very unlucky day.
Right before he left his workplace, he tried to find and buy a present for his wife, just as most Americans do while on the clock. He found a set of cute home décor plates, but he didn’t have a chance to finish the purchase due to the late meeting. When he arrived home, he tried to return to his shopping from his mobile but found two frustrating things: the order he tired to make from work PC wasn’t there on mobile, and the set he wanted to buy was out of stock. John was not a quitter, so he walked to a local store to find this set. Unfortunately, no success in that tries either. Luckily, an assistant managed to help John with a fancy replacement for the missing item.
John’s story is not something uncommon. His case gathered several issues that retailers face while trying to fight for the customer. Not all of the merchants are lucky enough to have such dedicated customers as John.
Food for thought for retailers
The report by Adyen (March 2019) shows that average omnichannel shoppers like John spend 15% more per purchase than those who shop in just one channel. Moreover, 57% of respondents say the ability to check whether an item is available online before going in-store would increase their loyalty to a retailer.
Source: The ADYEN Commerce Index
In a globalized world, customer experience is becoming a key differentiator between merchants. Shops learn to work with customers in a way that allows delivering seamless shopping experience from omnichannel shopping through fulfillment to automated return processes. This market landscape shift is on the rise during the last few years and will be the focus for the future. The trend is known as unified commerce.
Source: Retail Reimagined Experience — ADYEN
The approach allows retailers rather than focusing on channel expansion and integration, works on critical things that would enable them to bring all customer experience components together to enable rich and smooth experiences.
Unified commerce is a single centralized real-time commerce platform that connects all aspects of the business: website, mobile applications, brick-and-mortar stores systems, marketplaces, and internal fulfillment systems.
Are there any benefits?
Managing all channels via one platform allows you to track shoppers across multiple touchpoints, recognize them, and help them avoid time-consuming activities like entering the same data several times or limiting their payment options. Simply put, when the shopper decides to buy – they should be able to do it most easily.
Implementing alternative payment methods could increase conversion rates up to 30%.
Allowing local payment methods for global sites enables steady revenue rise via improved conversion rates on all funnel stages. According to ACI Worldwide insights, implementing alternative payment methods could increase conversion rates up to 30%.
Percentage lift in conversion rates of alternative payments compared to credit cards
Source: Alternative Payments and Ecommerce Transactions
Customers could use different devices and do a lot of non-sequential actions within different channels during their journey to purchase. 73% of them want to have an ability to track their orders across all points of interaction, according to Boston Retail Partners customer experience survey.
Customers expect to have consistent information about the product, its availability, and delivery options across all devices. Moreover, a lot of customers want to be able to communicate with retailers using different channels like messengers, phone calls, chats on the website. Times, when customers could tolerate the fact that they should explain their story to each new assistant, has gone long ago.
The trick in this approach is that a unified commerce experience is already partially delivered by making several channels of communication work together. Imagine yourself buying a ticket for your anniversary from a famous airline and post about it on social media. You’ll instantly receive “like” from a company bot or an SMM expert. But when you get on board to fly to your holiday destination, no one onboard will know that you have a special trip today. That’s the kind of case that unified commerce is aimed to solve.
What’s under the hood?
Most of the retailers aim to tackle such issues by building or choosing some modern unified commerce platform. We want to share some underlying issues that you may face and options on how to address these cases.
If you want to start switching your company to a business that will be able to deliver unified commerce experience to your customers, the first thing you should do is to revamp your company culture. Your employees should feel free to make decisions, experiment. A continuous improvement mindset should be put in place. The 3rd Agile wave, so-called Business Agility is focusing on making such a shift in organizations.
Pricing and product data management
Implement a single service that will manage your inventory and pricing for all the products across all channels. Such an integrated solution will help you ensure quick and relevant data within every user touchpoint.
A centralized database with API connected to different channel services (web, mobile, chatbots, marketplaces, stores ERP) will help you optimize queries, control real-time data messaging systems, and keep data consistency, eliminating issues with misinformation.
Gathering data from all channels to understand product usage and consumption patterns could be a game-changer for your retail business. This data could help merchants build a personalized offering that, in return, would improve customer loyalty and ensure sustainable revenue growth.
Ensure you offer various payment methods to satisfy even the most demanding customers. Moreover, make each of the options 100% secure. Lots of payment options enabled within all channels and empowered with the robust fraud protection systems will help you increase conversion rates, protect your customers from identity theft, and decrease chargeback rates.
Nothing is more frustrating for the customer than receiving a call from a shop and hearing weak apologies that an item he bought was out of stock. Endless aisles approach solves such issues by integrating suppliers’ orders with warehouse data allowing to show potential item delivery date based not only on storage data, but on delivery forecasts.
These days BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and BORIS (buy online, return in-store) concepts are on the rise. Staff handling return, refund, or exchange would do it in the same convenient way thanks to a centralized order management system.
Source: Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store — Statistics and Trends
Customer communication management
You can improve communication with customers by letting them know about every step of the purchasing and fulfillment process via their most preferred communication channel. The history of dialogues could also be gathered and used to support online/live communication with the customer if required.
Next steps to take
The centralized commerce system could help you to improve your customer experience and your brand image. These techniques allow you to be ahead in meeting customer expectations and differentiating your business.
Your opinion is of utmost importance to us. Would your consumers and your business benefit from a unified commerce approach? What could be your next steps at providing seamless customer experience?
Despite building a reliable unified commerce platform is a challenge you can succeed with a reliable partner by your side. Check out Intellias experience with related technologies and ask our experts how they can help you optimize your business.