The seamless shopping experience: customer first, retailer second
- Posted on August 11, 2016
The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Nick Lefkonidjates.
Forget what you know. The relationship between customer and retailer has intrinsically changed. The power is truly now in the customer’s hand.
Before mobile web browsing, smartphone apps, and social media allowed customers to make purchases anytime, anywhere, the mentality was always retailer first, customer second. But now, to remain competitive, retailers must provide a seamless shopping experience and constant, clear channels of communication.
Regardless of how or where a customer is interacting with a retailer, they see only one brand and, naturally, expect one consistent experience. Indeed, as a customer yourself, you shouldn’t have to start a conversation from scratch each time you contact a retail brand through a different channel – in-store, via social media or their website.
To satisfy these customer needs over the last few years, many retailers have been focusing their efforts on their digital front-end – and understandably so. Polished front-end efforts attract and engage consumers; but without up-to-date, responsive back-end processes and technology, the user experience is disjointed and ultimately disappointing. As a retailer, you must identify at which point in the customer journey you are failing to deliver on the customer promise and address key behind-the-scenes challenges to meet modern day online/offline demands.
So, how can retailers manage these expectations? In short: by offering a seamless shopping experience – and how you go about delivering this offer will be largely dictated by where you are in your digital evolution. Some retailers should consider a full rebuild of front and back-end if their current systems landscape is no longer providing a consistent customer experience. Whereas, if you’re already advanced in your digital journey, you may want to focus on updating elements of your current landscape in a more dynamic and agile way.
While this can sound like quite the task, rest assured, technology solutions and expertise do exist to help retailers make the transition from front-end-focused to an agile and streamlined provider of a seamless shopping experience. One of my suggested first port-of-calls for retailers is to review their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) processes and technologies. ERP helps retailers of all sizes create a connected customer journey, by managing and automating functions and services such as order management, demand planning, logistics and warehousing processes. This will help you to give your customers the products they want, when and where they want them, delivering on the promise of your customer-facing interactions.
Aligning back-end and front-end services will improve the customer shopping experience and put them first. As a retailer, you should make sure that your processes and technologies seamlessly align to deliver on your customer promise at every point in their journey with you.