By : Bob Feher
March 24, 2017 08:00 AM
A more unified approach to retail is essential for any business that wants to successfully compete in today's hugely crowded landscape. With big online players offering shoppers more choice than ever, it's vital that smaller companies invest in the latest solutions in order to keep up.
A unified commerce strategy can help create more personal connections with shoppers, boost loyalty and deliver a more exciting experience in store. And at the heart of this needs to be technology.
Research conducted by IHL Group on behalf of NCR highlighted why retailers need to be thinking about this at all times. It found that the top-performing companies in the sector spend a lot more on IT than others. In fact, on average, retail winners spend 69 percent more on IT solutions than laggards.
But just increasing spending isn't enough on its own. To ensure a strong return on investment, businesses need to make sure they're focusing their resources in the areas that will make a real difference to their operations and give customers the great experience they now expect.
So what should retailers be looking at to achieve this? Some highlights are included in this quick video, but here we’ll dive into three key areas that are essential if companies want to make unified commerce a reality.
An integrated order management system
A strong order management system (OMS) that connects all channels, including e-commerce, mobile sales and in-store - will be the heart of any effective commerce system. Without this, the business as a whole won't function effectively, no matter how many resources they devote to other parts of the business.
As the foundation of any retail business, this is a key base on which inventory management, order fulfilment and other key pillars of an effective unified commerce system can be built. Thanks to the huge sales and productivity gains that such a platform can provide, IHL's research found retailers with an OMS see sales gains 18 percent higher than those without.
A single system for handling customer data
Personalization is another key aspect of a strong commerce solution. For instance, companies that are able to identify customer preferences and apply them across every channel see average sales increases 107 percent higher than those that do not. When it comes to digital channels, retailers that personalize the content they deliver also enjoy a 69 percent higher sales increase.
But to do this, retailers need an effective way of managing their customer data. Having a single, centralized view of this is an essential first step in understanding a customer's individual desires and needs, enabling them to put in place programs to tailor their services accordingly.
An up-to-date POS system
The third key building block for a unified commerce system is an effective, up-to-date POS solution that can make the most of a retailer's OMS, connect to CRM tools to deliver real-time information to an associate, and give retailers the power to transform their in-store experience and offer a 'wow' factor to customers.
One increasingly important functionality that a strong solution should support is mobile POS. Giving sales associates these tools can help retailers boost their sales increases by an extra 77 percent compared with those that lack these capabilities. If implemented effectively - including thorough training - this technology helps employees engage better with customers and answer their queries more effectively.
These three building blocks need to be at the heart of any retailer's unified commerce strategy. Without these platforms, they will be unable to put in place the technology tools they need in order to better serve customers and ensure they are leading the way in the sector, not struggling to catch up.
For more information on the IHL Group study, visit www.ncr.com/howgreenisyourgrass