While not everyone agrees, “the customer is always right”, it is hard to deny that customers are ultimately in charge of buying decisions. The key to having them repeatedly decide in your favor is customer satisfaction – identifying and satisfying their evolving preferences and expectations.
It often takes multiple touch points – promotions, web views, store visits – to build satisfaction and generate a sale, yet a sale can easily be lost due to just one poor customer experience. Either way, you’ll want to know what happened, and why.
Cast a broader net with a solid omni-channel strategy
To improve retail operations, you need timely information, lots of it, analyzed in formats that make it easier for you to reach informed decisions quickly.
A comprehensive omni-channel strategy improves your chances to track and analyze customer behavior, convert sales, cultivate customer relationships and satisfaction, build loyalty, and evolve new strategies for growth. But it involves more than just complementing brick-and-mortar stores with on-line transactions. It includes ways to improve overall customer experiences – from goods and services offered, to channels of communication, to consistent on-line and in-person interactions. A true omni-channel approach helps you:
- Leverage data from multiple retail functions – POS, e-Commerce, manufacturing, procurement, logistics, inventory management system, warehouse management, CRM, and customer service – in one integrated system.
- Utilize that data to generate actionable information for corporate decision-makers, as well as in-store associates.
- Eliminate divisions between in-store and on-line activities.
- Identify general buying behaviors and trends to develop more productive future offerings.
- Track individual consumer behaviors to satisfy personal preferences, extend personalized service, and generate ancillary sales.
- Recognize dips in retail activity or financial performance to stay ahead of the curve with new or modified internal or external programs.
- Monitor social media to identify emerging problems that can be resolved with fast action, or to capitalize on expressed customer preferences with new promotional incentives.
High-tech, high-touch customer service
Customers tend to care more about the outcomes they want than about the technologies that support them. But as a retail decision-maker, you need to care about both. Look for integrated retail system solutions and omni-channel capabilities that satisfy your need for both high-tech data analysis and high-touch responsiveness.
- Relevance. Account for all the people, processes, and programs that create your front-line interface with customers, as well as a 360-degree view of the POS, call center, and IT systems that support back-office operations.
- Accessibility. Ensure that your solution is accessible to all your business support technologies – including mobile device access to real-time information for store personnel and customer options for purchasing via desktop or mobile platforms.
- Versatility. Look for database capabilities that let you include all operational and marketing data in your analysis and provide free-form capability to analyze results by any criteria you deem important.
- Feedback. Close the loop – i.e. track historical patterns – with systems that evaluate ROI and provide insight on how to adapt or expand past activities for future success.
Don’t underestimate mobility
As consumer options multiply, responsiveness becomes more critical. Mobile data devices improve sales associate capacity to satisfy customer desires for.
- Convenience. Fingertip access to product details, comparisons, and alternatives enables sales associates to be more responsive to customer requests without having to leave the sales floor.
- Personal engagement. Ability to log personal information and preferences into a tablet, and to generate instant search results or proposals based on that information, improves the ability to satisfy customer wants and strengthen personal interaction.
- Continuity. Access to complete account information – prior on-line, telephone, and in-store activity – enables every sales associate to deliver consistent, timely response to known customer preferences.
- Product availability. Real-time inventory data can save time, eliminate wasted trips, set realistic delivery expectations, even trigger immediate sales based on local store or central warehouse availability.
Sharpen your competitive edge
Contact an AlfaPeople expert in retail systems solutions to answer specific questions and outline cost-effective strategies for answering omni-channel retail challenges. Or visit us online to compare our retail support expertise, explore customer success stories, and download our whitepaper on “The Evolving Role of Technology in Retail”.