Pro Tips for Shopper-First Retailing, Powered by Unified Commerce
By Karlie Taylor, Marketing Manager, Comestri
Keeping customers at the very centre of the purchase journey sounds simple enough, but is it really? If systems and channels aren’t connected, the data isn’t unified, leaving customers with a fractured and disjointed journey. Unifying data from each step of the purchase journey, from discovery to purchase, fulfillment and shipments, through to returns and refunds, will give customers a consistent and seamless shopping experience.
Here’s our top tips for employing a ‘shopper-first’ retail strategy.
Tip #1: Centralise Your Data
Centralising your data in a unified commerce solution is pivotal to keeping customers at the very centre of the purchase journey, and providing a consistent brand experience across all channels. Connecting your PIM (product information manager) to your core business systems and channels (POS, ERP, WMS, ecommerce platforms, warehouses, stores, dropshippers, email gateway, payment gateway and more) not only ensures a single source of truth for product data, but connects your shopper journey seamlessly.
Store and enrich your product information in your PIM, ensuring product data is not only consistent across channels but can also be tailored per channel: product information, imagery and videos, pricing, shipping options and costs, stock availability, payment options and more.
Consumers often have up to four touchpoints with a brand before making a final purchase decision.
An essential strategy for an exceptional, friction-free customer journey
Tip #2: Bridge The Gap Between Offline and Online Worlds
Connect your channels for a seamless, friction-free shopping experience by giving them a consistent experience wherever they chose to touch your brand.
- Unify your inventory with a Distributed Order Management System to allow customers to view instore inventory online. Customers are looking for real-time information when it comes to the products they need, so much so that searches containing “available near me” grew by more than 2X across regions and categories in 2020.
- Make every channel shoppable and allow customers to make the purchase when and where it suits them. Whether the purchase is made on a marketplace, directed back to your ecommerce store or at a bricks and mortar retail store, ensure the journey is consistent, friction-free and designed with the customer at the centre.
74% of instore shoppers who searched online before going to the store to shop said they searched for something “instore related”, such as the closest store near them, locations, in stock near them, hours, directions, wait times and contact information.
Tip #3: Reimagine Your Retail Stores
Customers have been forced to adapt their shopping habits in the past 18 months, and the trend towards online shopping isn’t going away anytime soon. Online grew to a massive 33% share of all retail in 2020; retailers have been forced to rapidly adapt to remain competitive (and trading!)
47% of multichannel retailers said their main physical location strategy this year would be opening hybrid shops.
Retail stores still have a massive part to play in the shopper journey, they just need to be reimagined. Remaining agile is key; adapting to changing market conditions and consumer expectations will see stores remain an important part of the shopper journey.
- Enable ship from store functionality to ensure every piece of inventory is available to be sold, no matter where the order comes from, where the item is situated or where the customer is located.
By unifying inventory in a unified commerce solution, live stock counts are available online, allowing customers to check instore stock, click & collect and click & reserve.
Knowing where inventory is located also empowers store staff to make the sale, even if the item in question isn’t available in their store. Order instore, ship to home is also a powerful tool for retailers to never miss a sale.
60% of consumers say they would be more loyal to retailers if they would let them purchase an out-of-stock item in-store and have it delivered to their home.
- Adopt the latest digital technologies to create showrooms, flagship stores and experiential centres. Empower customers to engage with you how and when it suits them.
Cult Australian cosmetics retailer MECCA made the best of a bad situation when all Sydney stores were forced to close due to the pandemic recently. Instore staff manned their website’s live chat, giving at-home customers an instore experience. Staff accessed product testers to advise on colour, shades and products for those shopping at home.
Unified Commerce puts the consumer at the centre of a holistic retail experience, touching everything from the purchase journey, customer service, fulfillment, returns & refunds and more. Everything comes down to data; connecting all back end systems with customer-facing channels in a manner where critical data can pass between these systems but still ensure the truth is vital.
Comestri has recently published a special report UNIFIED COMMERCE:
An essential strategy for an exceptional, friction-free customer journey. Download your copy today and see how a unified commerce strategy can help you succeed in the next generation of retail.