More than half of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience by creating a unified mobile shopping experience.
As the future of retail becomes the present, consumers expect retailers to combine the sensory of the physical world with the personalized shopping experience of the digital world.
Boston Retail Partners (BRP) conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, categorizing customer experience capabilities as the following: educate, engage, execute, enhance and enablers.
When it comes to educating consumers, more retailers are using social media as a way for consumers to research products than last year, up from 73% to 92%.
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“One of the areas of greatest improvement retailers have made in the past year is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products,” David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP, told FierceRetail.
Retailers are realizing the important role that social media plays in the customer journey. According to a recent UPS Pulse Survey, 77% of online shoppers use social media and one-third indicate that social media influences their purchases.
And while 67% of retailers are offering consistent product assortment across channels, their execution is not up to par, as 43% indicate that their processes still need improvement.
In addition, retailers are learning the value of customer insights, with 89% gathering social media elements as a measurement of customer satisfaction, up from 59% last year.
Finally, enhanced networks are critical to creating a unified environment, and 76% of retailers plan to enhance or replace their networks within the next three years.
Why haven’t more retailers executed the replacement or enhancement of their networks yet?
“Many retailers have started down the path to unified commerce by offering services that emulate the holistic shopping environment that the customer expects but, in many cases, the process to offer customers a seamless experience is still manual and involves complex integration across multiple systems and processes, and doesn’t work well in real-time,” Naumann explained. “Unfortunately, most retailers are finding it much harder than they thought to implement unified commerce capabilities.”
Thus far, many retailers have taken the “just get it done” approach in an attempt to deliver a cross-channel customer experience. But Naumann calls this a "quick fix" that risks disappointing customers in the long run. This hurry-up-and-get-it-done attitude, combined with legacy systems, does not add up to a sufficient omnichannel execution.
Moving forward, Naumann says that retailers will need to rethink old paradigms and adopt a new approach to unified commerce.
“Unified commerce is the cornerstone for delivering the holistic real-time customer experience by breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a common commerce platform,” he said. “A unified commerce platform is not simply the future in-store or web platform, but combines in-store POS, mobile, web, order management, call center and clienteling into one integrated platform. It has become the new retail imperative.”