Nanda Balasubramanian, Partner at
Portaltech Reply said: "I wasn’t surprised to learn that retailers are increasingly struggling to provide a coherent multichannel customer experience because of the difficulties they face in integrating customer touch points, according to recent research from Portaltech Reply, eDigital Research and IMRG. Almost two thirds (65%) of retailers feel that their current technology systems make creating a seamless multichannel customer experience challenging".
But for retailers who want to remain competitive, this situation has to change. Having more touch points means more customers to understand. The problem is not a lack of appetite to change the landscape or understand the behaviour. The primary challenge is the difficulty in unbundling the complexity that has been built across these silos over the years , leading to significant expense in terms of implementation and maintenance cost. There used to be a hunger for business transformation or technology transformation that turns the shanty town into shiny town some years ago.
This mindset and approach has to change in the current IT and market landscape. Businesses don’t have three years to achieve ROI – they need it now. However, it can be common for time to pass before rewards can be reaped post-transformation. By then, the organisation already requires further change because customer footprint or dynamics change. What businesses need to think about is the flexibility that they can gain by aligning or merging IT and business based on context-driven drivers. These drivers could be dependent on customer or revenue; customer footfall reducing in a retail store, for example. The retailer needs to understand the real demographic driver most responsible for this reduction and then make changes based on that information. It could be the case that changing the store layout to suit one type of audience could increase footfall again by targeting a different demographic front of store.
The challenge of integration is all too apparent in our research. Retailers’ confidence has decreased, with only 34% of retailers being able to proudly say their channels are integrated – this is down from 48% last year. Integration is problematic and channels siloed. Retailers shouldn’t think ‘transformation’, instead they need to start thinking about what they want to deliver to the customer and then devise how they are going to make it happen. It should not be based on the constraints laid by the current technology landscape.
Whatever the business issue, technology systems need provide the flexibility and agility to adapt to the changing needs of the business. It is clear that existing technology and legacy systems are hampering the performance of brands in an increasingly multichannel world. Partners and suppliers must recommend and develop implementations that integrate seamlessly with these systems. With budgets and resources for multichannel improvements still relatively limited, suppliers must ensure that any recommendations are cost effective and can be easily tailored to fit with emerging trends and changing priorities. The study highlights that consumers are using the Internet as a commodity, engaging with retailers via any channel possible. To improve the customer experience, retailers need to prioritise creating a consistent experience across physical and digital touch points to put the customer at the heart of the business. Those who don’t will find they have lost valuable ground in near future.
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Portaltech Reply is the leading hybris Partner with offices in London, Chicago, Milan and Dusseldorf. The company holds Platinum Elite Status and is Global Partner of the Year 2012, 2011 and 2009 with over 30 major hybris projects to its name. Portaltech Reply offers an end to end set of products and services for multi-channel commerce including consulting, commerce platform implementation and integration, mobile and digital design, SaaS and on-premise warehouse management, proximity marketing, mobile payments and Cloud based hosting on the Amazon and Google platforms, wrapped in a full managed service from one single supplier. Portaltech Reply clients include Bunzl Group, Costco Wholesale, Delhaize Group, Monsoon & Accessorize, P&O Ferries and TUI Travel.
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