Today’s consumer is demanding, with more information at his or her fingertips than ever before about availability, price, product features, delivery options and return policy. The way retailers interact with customers will see dramatic change. However, serving the customer as they wish must be balanced with profitability.
As retailers continue to keep pace with consumer expectations, many are turning to Unified Commerce to provide real time data across all channels for a seamless flow of information. Increased sales and margins, lower mark downs and improved customer loyalty are some of the benefits when retailers break barriers and share inventory and customer data across channels.
According to a recent study:
- 86% of retail executives expect to implement a Unified Commerce platform over the next ten years
- Approximately 33% anticipate improvements in margin, brand value and revenue of 10% or more by implementing a Unified Commerce platform
Consumer expectations and behavior have evolved at lightning speed. They research product prior to purchase, buy from anywhere on any device, expect fast delivery and want to return product in a way that is convenient for them. They expect retailers to know who they are – if I live in Florida, don’t sent me an offer for a snow blower. Real time data available to staff, customers and suppliers at any time, on any device, is mandatory.
At the core of Unified Commerce is omni channel retail software that connects the dots between channels. Unified Commerce includes planning, stores, digital commerce and fulfillment. Legacy, isolated point solutions prevent retailers from achieving maximum customer satisfaction, sales, margin and profitability.
RPE Solutions’ retail supply chain consulting team offers this advice: When embracing a Unified Commerce strategy, turn challenges into opportunities.
- Develop a plan – identify pains and opportunities
- Involve all areas of the business impacted from the beginning – projects that only involve IT tend to fail
- Transition almost always takes longer than planned – be realistic about timeframes and plan for delays
- Plan additional staff – current staff cannot perform normal duties and have significant involvement in the transition
- There will be surprises – allow for them
- Be flexible – revisit and evaluate the plan often and with an open mind
Changes are already occurring, and without a doubt, the way consumers interact with retailers will continue to shift dramatically as time goes on. As a retail supply chain consulting firm, it’s our responsibility to understand—and help our clients adapt to—those changes. Disruption is the new normal and retailers must prepare and encourage disruption.
As technology advances, and consumer mindsets shift, omni channel retail software must be updated and adapted to meet current standards. But it’s crucial that rather than react to change, we do our best to predict—and be prepared for—the future.
Here at RPE Solutions, we’re always looking toward tomorrow. Are you ready for what’s to come? Get in touch with us today and benefit from our retail supply chain consulting services.
* 2014 Report Digitizing the Store, The Next Wave of Online and Offline Convergence by NRF and University of Arizona