In this instalment of our charting series we want to draw your attention to a few trends that on the surface are not that new, but could amount to a heap of trouble for retailers big and small.
In the recent post by eMarketer: “Retailers Look to Merge Offline and Online Shopping Experiences in 2014” eMarketer cites their recent report that e-commerce will continue to grow as a sales channel for retailers accounting for 6.4% of total sales or $304.1 billion. That’s a jump of 15.5% over last year. While 6.4% of sales is still small compared to traditional bricks and mortar stores over 89% of Internet users are webrooming and showrooming as part of the shopping experience.
The implication is that more of us will be using the Internet to shop and buy, but not necessarily at the expense of traditional retailing anytime soon.
The shopping and buying experience, from the perspective of the customer (both B2B and B2C), if not already, will quickly become one that we expect to be seamless. As consumers we want a single lens that helps us find, evaluate and buy a product whether it be from a web site, from a tweet or from a store shelf.
So where’s the potential collision, as our title suggests? The front end of the shopping experience such as the in-store merchandising, the e-commerce site and the Facebook ad need to be integrated and guide the buyer to purchase through a seamless and easily navigable flow. But, in our experience what’s often forgotten is how the data, systems, partners, suppliers and processes will integrate and flow to the backend. Its nit just the supply chain but the entire experience today that is important. As examples we’ve seen the following. These are just a smattering of the issues:
- Retailers, wholesalers and distributors waste time by manually re-entering web store orders into their ERP systems
- 3PLs and Logistics providers with no automated means to alert retailers of stock outages or delayed shipments
- 3PLs and Logistics providers with out dated technology that hinder easy onboarding and integration, thereby slowing down the customer experience
- Manual handling of webstore inventory updates.
- Incomplete or out of date product descriptions.
The good news is that there are experts and solutions that make it possible for you to connect all of the pieces together so you can provide a seamless buying experience. The key is to think about the how the product gets into the hands of the customer. Then ask yourself can we keep track of the movement of that product through the supply chain AND purchase experience. Finally you need a data strategy to identify all the data touch points in the supply chain. You’d be surprised and how easy it can be once you have a good understanding of the moving parts.
A loyal customer is one that will be able to shop and buy online and in-store, who receives a positive purchase experience. A positive purchase experience is built on good technology with sound data movement plans. But in order for that loyal customer to be profitable the data, systems, tools, partners, suppliers and processes must integrate seamlessly. Something we do each and every day.
We would love to hear how you have accomplished higher levels of customer satisfaction through integration and proper data strategies. Send us your comments and feedback.