Comment: Fragmented multichannel operations can lead to poor customer experience
Daren Ward at Glue Reply argues that the multichannel operation for most retailers is too focused on sales and does not deliver on customer expectations.
The evolution of channels for traditional retailers has resulted in fragmented operations leading to a poor user experience. Glue Reply has coined a new term ‘Proximity Commerce’ which we think better describes how retailers should approach Multichannel. The new term seeks to encapsulate where retail is heading and fit with how customers and technology are driving the agenda for retailers.
Daren continues,“Proximity Commerce is when the customer has full control of when and where they make their purchasing decision either at home, online or on the go and whom they choose to involve. The retailer that enables this conversation will better understand their customers’ needs and build long-term relationships”.
It’s no longer about the channel; it’s about the ‘conversation’ i.e. the dialogue that a customer has with a retailer and their personal network in the run up to a purchase.
As social media starts to become ubiquitous in retail, retailers must be mindful that the IQ of the crowd can in fact be greater than the most intelligent individual. The sales cycle has extended as customers start to get help from all sorts of third parties; friends via Social Media, parents via face time, reviews at our finger tips, possibly ‘mobile assistants’, and so on.
“The combination of social media, touch screen and mobile technologies has enabled this conversation, but this conversation must be relevant and retailers need to work hard to ensure it is.”
The four common customer expectations that are not met:
A Simple Proposition
Retailers have inadvertently created complex and artificial boundaries through the nature of how their operation is set up within separate channels – mainly store and online – but this can often translate to the customer as nonsensical.
Stock housing is a key area:
• “We don’t do deliveries to home from this store, period!”
• “You can’t return that product here, we don’t run that line.”
• “Sorry, we can’t place your order for that in-store, you need to order online.”
• “I wouldn’t trust the stock on the website, you should call the store.”
Proximity Commerce™ supports the new world of retail by enabling retailers to utilise the best of technology to recreate the level of personal customer interaction commonplace in the 1950s. Back then,customers’ personal tastes and sizing were known by their tailor and they received genuine personal service. Proximity Commerce can bring personalisation to today’s masses. Retailers can gather details on personal preferences, size, offers and recommendations to shorten yet enhance the purchasing experience.
Added benefits of belonging without intrusion
People like to be a member of something if it has a heightened status with their peers and offers extra benefits. Customers who become a member are more loyal and will have more meaningful conversations. Proximity Commerce helps retailers from overstepping the mark with the level of communication with the customer by providing ways and methods of reaching out to the customer at the right time.
Service on the customers’ terms
Customers are beginning to drive the servicethey want, the provenance they expect, the products they like and how they want to engage. For example, customers started using Facebook before retailers. Every customer is different therefore personalisation is key.
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