Innovative Retail Technologies

NOV-DEC 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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How modern commerce platforms are bridging the digital/physical retail divide Y our best, most loyal digital custom- ers and brand evangelists are easy to identify and nurture online, where your whole world is at their fingertips. In stores, they run the risk of shopping incognito and walking away disappointed. We posed a few questions about how to combat that danger to Adam Forrest, senior director of Americas marketing at Demandware, and David Potts, founder and CEO at SalesWarp. Imperatives To A Seamless Customer Experience It's come into focus for many that the founda- tion of a seamless customer experience is a unified platform that delivers content, data, and personalization across all touch points, from digital devices to interactions in physical stores. That's not been an easy task, and it's a hangup many multi-channel merchants face. Demandware's Forrest says that by gather- ing data from across the touchpoints in a centralized way, retailers can rest assured that the customer information they're working with is complete, accurate, and consistent. "As a result of having a 360-view of consum- ers' interactions with the brand, whether via a desktop, mobile device, or in store, retailers and associates are able to provide a better and more tailored customer experience," he says. But how? Forrest says that while unification of the seamless experience requires new technology, it also requires a look at the organizational structure. "Retailers need to hand-in-hand en- Cracking The Omni-Channel Customer Code able unification from a technology standpoint and take a look at how they measure and en- able retail success from a managerial perspec- tive," he says. That requires metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators). "Traditional com- merce metrics such as visits and conversion no longer reflect the way consumers shop," says Forrest. His company's Q2 Shopping Index found that this is particularly true for mobile, where retailers realized 47 percent of digital traffic but only 27 percent of all online orders. "If you evaluate success using traditional metrics, then you minimize the importance of mobile," he says. "If you want to see mobile's influence, then you need a new set of metrics that reflect what is actually happening in the consumer landscape." SalesWarp's Potts says you also need a few building blocks. Your first priority, he says, is a responsive design that carries the brand effectively across all digital device formats and feels "familiar" to the consumer. "A very close second is near real-time inventory of all the products you sell available digitally — both in-store and warehouse inventories — as this enables a seamless experience that drives sales growth and customer retention." The Importance Of Inventory Visibility Having ascertained that bridging the shop- ping experience between online avenues and the store starts with a visibility-enabling unified commerce platform and a responsive digital presence, we asked Forrest and Potts for some examples of channel-agnostic inven- BY MATT PILLAR Nov-Dec 2016 28 tory visibility in action. "A classic example of this is providing customers with the ability to buy or reserve items online and then pick them up in store," says Forrest. "A newer example of this model is enabling the customer to create an online dressing room or wish list so that when a customer arrives in the store, their selections are already gathered for them to look through or try on." The key to successfully doing this, he says, is having a centralized — not siloed — system for tracking sales, inventory, and customer interactions. The Italian apparel brand OVS offers a prime example of how retailers are leveraging a unified commerce platform to create a seam- less shopping experience. "For customers who prefer to shop online, they can shop on OVS and collect the purchase in store, an option that 24 percent of its online shoppers have What's Next If you evaluate success using traditional metrics, then you minimize the importance of mobile. If you want to see mobile's influence, then you need a new set of metrics that reflect what is actually happening in the consumer landscape. Adam Forrest, senior director of Americas marketing, Demandware

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