Have you ever noticed how hard it is to keep in touch with all the friends you’ve made in your life? You try and write, call, email, or text, but you only have so many hours in a day and it’s difficult to give the same amount of attention to everyone.
Now, think about your retail software. You’ve got back-end solutions doing some serious grunt work and front-of-house software that makes everything nice and pretty for your customers. And both of these need to have consistent, open communication in order for your business to run smoothly. If that doesn't happen, your customers will walk away.
Imagine you’re online looking for your next phone upgrade, you find “the one,” and see that it’s in stock. Rushing over to the closest retailer, you find out the phone is only in store in select cities – not yours. That’s a pretty disheartening experience, isn’t it? But that’s what customers are going through when a wireless retailer’s channels lack consistency.
The good news? Creating that cohesive experience across all your channels is not only possible, it’s easy with the right technology. Let’s explore how you can create a consistency across your brand so that you can enhance the customer experience and win the competitive advantage.
Start with the basics
First thing’s first: that consistent experience? It’s called unified commerce. It’s the next level of omnichannel, where software is not only connected, it’s communicating. That means that wherever a shopper finds you – in-store, online, on social media – you’re giving them the same experience across the board. When you hear unified, think frictionless.
The IT research firm, Gartner, defines unified commerce as:
“The practice of providing flexibility, continuity, and consistency across digital and physical channels to deliver a superior customer experience. This consistency includes multiple phases of the customer’s buying journey, including when a customer is searching, browsing for, transacting, acquiring, and consuming a product or service.”
So, when we talk unified, we’re meaning cross-channel. From your payment platforms to your in-store signage to your face-to-face interactions, the customer should never receive something they didn’t expect. But it’s important to note that unified commerce doesn’t mean “the same,” it just means cohesive.
And when you know your customer and their expectations at every touchpoint, you’re able to present that cohesive face to customers across all points of contact. You also get a comprehensive, continuous view of the customer. The same systems that power the consistency of experience also collects data about how your customer interacts with your business, which ca then be mined for insights and used to further perfect operations.
Customer experience > everything
The conversation around unified commerce is sweeping across every sector of wireless retail industry. It has moved beyond the cutting-edge concept first posed a few years back, to rapid adoption by mainstream players, who seek to understand shoppers more completely so that they can create consistent, high-value customer experiences across all touchpoints.
Unified commerce puts customers first by ensuring a consistent, satisfying brand
and service experience across all touchpoints and any path to purchase. This is sometimes called a 360-degree view of the customer, because it enables the retailer to collate each shopper’s interactions into a coherent picture, from every vantage.
Shoppers care about interacting with one brand with one set of norms, regardless of the purchase occasion, channel of interaction or the path they took to get there.
How you can create a unified customer experience
What your customers expect of you can be categorized as projected attributes of your business. So ask yourself, what kind of feeling do you want your customers to have, before, during, and after they've left your stores? What expectations do your customers have that make or break their loyalty to your business?
Answering these questions is the first step towards unified commerce. Start by analyzing the most effective, frictionless path-to-purchase your store could offer. What would disrupt that for your customers and how can you eradicate that disruption? Put into practice, your planning process might look like this:
Current Problem: The customer’s transaction time is long. The payment process is lagging and the associate has to enter card type, payment amount, and other details into the payment terminal and the POS system.
Unified Solution: Employ state-of-the-art payment technologies that are connected with your POS for fewer screens and less reconciliation time so your customer can take their purchase home quicker.
Current Problem: The store is busy and desktop terminals are being used by associates helping customers. Other shoppers are waiting but they’re growing impatient and won’t wait forever.
Unified Solution: Unified commerce enables mobile technologies to integrate with existing transactional processes. This means that mobile tablets with full-fledged retailing power can be taken to wherever the customer is in-store – literally. Never again will an associate be limited by the number of desktop workstations.
Software is the difference
Wireless retail is complicated, and without a robust solution at the core of your business, unified commerce just isn’t possible.
Your business needs that connecting piece that’s going to bring everything together. An intelligent retail solution that connects your retail platforms, but also informs data-driven decisions with industry-leading reporting and analytics, enables in-store mobile solutions, and provides direct connection to a POS that’s built for wireless.
For a more advanced look at what a truly unified customer experience is, watch our free webinar to this recorded webinar to learn how, with the right technology and strategies, you can adopt a unified commerce strategy that ensures a satisfying brand experience across all of your channels and any path to purchase.