Winter is here, but the National Retail Federation (NRF) brought heat to New York City this week as retailers gained optimism and learned new strategies and tactics to ensure a promising future in 2019. The NRF event is retail’s largest show and brings together top retail brands, experts, analysts, and anyone else responsible for keeping retail alive and well. It was an impressive, busy, and exciting show.
inRiver joined NRF in the Microsoft booth as part of the Unified Commerce Alliance (UCA), a coalition formed by Microsoft, Episerver, Avensia Storefront, and inRiver. The alliance assists retailers with the challenges of omnichannel e-commerce. The UCA offers a unified approach to e-commerce to maximize customer experience and drive revenue.
The importance of omnichannel retail and optimized customer experience is at an all-time high as consumers expect this consistently from brands. A unified approach to commerce is one of the ways to ensure exceptional experiences both online and in-stores, and keeps consumers engaged and making purchases.
Foot traffic was high at the UCA, and after many discussions, two main key takeaways emerged:
Retail Must Be Omnichannel
Converting consumer interest (browsers) into a real selling opportunity (buyers) is one of the biggest challenges in retail. Shoppers utilize different channels multiple times a day, including voice, and the better the omnichannel experience, the better success the retailer will have. Happy browsers turn into happy buyers if their experience is positive and consistent across channels. There are growth opportunities both online and off, but it can’t be one or the other. It needs to be where your buyers are and that means omnichannel.
According to Stephanie Tuttle, Principle at Oliver Wyman: “Seventy-nine percent of people are still going to a store. Some of those people are going online first, but ‘retail apocalypse’ is not the term we’re at yet.”
Customer-focus for the Win
Brian Cornell, CEO and Board Chairman of Target, delivered a main stage fireside chat entitled, “More in store: Target invests in its guests and its future.” Cornell discussed Target’s prosperous growth in 2018, with reference to Target’s 2018 holiday season success. Cornell highlighted how omnichannel shopping experiences have made it possible for consumers to buy products with the swipe of a finger and how ten years ago, everything was different. And no one shopped on a Blackberry.
Cornell outlined key areas which have driven Target’s success and growth over the past ten years. The first one? “You must always start with the consumer, in every decision that you make,” said Cornell.
The content and networking at NRF provided great opportunities to hear from industry leaders from across the globe. Gaining insights into the retail industry from the brands that are driving innovation today inspired us and reminded us of what is important.
We agree with Brian Cornell – always start with the consumer.
Want to learn more about omnichannel strategies for retail? Download the free report, How Omnichannel Strategies Drive Retail Growth.
About the Author:
Christina Welky is a recent graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a year of experience in marketing and communication. She generates marketing content that drives conversations.
In this first episode of 2019, we are joined by Matilda Hansson (Digital Product Manager) and David Fuentes (Information Technology) of Dometic to talk about how switching to inRiver PIM benefited their company as a whole. After facing challenges with their current PIM system, it was time for a change. Implementing inRiver PIM ultimately reduced company costs and increased efficiency. Sounds almost too easy, doesn't it?
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Do you have a topic for PIMtalk or would like to be a guest? We're always looking for great speakers and content. Email us at PIMtalk@inriver.com.
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The age of the customer is upon us. It is now clear that what differentiates top performing organizations in 2019 won’t be price or functionality - it will be customer experience. To some, customer experience (CX) is the ease in which customers access information, conduct transactions, or engage with a brand online. According to Forrester, however, it is much more than that. Customer experience impacts more than what is offered or sold online, it is omnichannel and must encompass all customer touchpoints before, during, and after a purchase.
“This new world requires leaders to think and act differently.” Forrester
How to build a better customer experience in 2019?
Start with the customer - Delivering or creating an exceptional customer experience needs to be viewed as a catalyst or gateway to innovation focused around the customer. This means building processes internally and externally to support customer needs and aligning resources accordingly.
Why? Without this innovation and commitment, the customer experience won’t be meaningful enough to matter. You’ll lose the engagement and with that the revenue, but you might also lose the customer entirely.
Context is everything - Building great experiences starts with context. Without context, the customer is not engaged, the experience is not personalized, and you’ve lost the opportunity to build a relationship.
“Context is your cue, but you need to use that context to deliver individual experiences, and that means rethinking your entire content supply chain,” according to a recent CMO.com article.
Consistency matters – Seamless engagement across channels - whether online, in-store, or another scenario like social commerce, is core to a great customer experience. Consistent access to the same content, imagery, product descriptions, or pricing information helps to build consumer trust. When data is inconsistent, brand trust, and customers seek alternative sources for information.
The competition for attention, and ultimately, conversions are higher than ever as traditional methods for securing customer preference, and loyalty have changed. Price matching is standard practice today and loyalty needs to be earned via positive experiences, not just positive purchases.
The only way to compete in this omnichannel world is to deliver an exceptional customer experience from the beginning of an engagement through the post-purchase experience. It starts and ends with innovation and a commitment to exceeding customer expectations. Focus on context and consistency across all channels and keep evolving as customer expectations do. Don’t be afraid to experiment, after all, innovation sometimes needs some bold moves to leapfrog the competition.
Want to learn more about customer experience? Tune in to the PIMtalk podcast, "How to Deliver a Great Customer Experience" featuring Carlos Hidalgo.
About the Author
Johan Boström is Co-founder and Evangelist at inRiver. Johan is a senior business leader with over 20 years of experience leading international technology companies and is one of the founders of inRiver. Follow Johan on Twitter here @.