Reimagining customer experience for the new breed of shopper

Many retailers have quickly and successfully navigated the challenges of the last two years, to a place where they are now equipped with many of the right tools required to seamlessly serve their customers across whichever touch points or platforms they prefer.

As learned pandemic behaviors become the default setting for millions of consumers around the globe, brands have continued serving customers via click and collect and curbside pickup, simultaneously processing online returns in-store too.

For many retailers, this agile, innovation-heavy fusion of online and physical demand, is becoming more commonplace, placing the role of modern, dynamic POS technology squarely at the center of a redefined connected commerce era.

For brands today, a reimagined customer experience can be broken down into three key stages, with modern POS playing an important linchpin function at each of the three phases:

  1. Pre-purchase: retailers need to have full visibility of not just customer data such as purchase history, but also their own inventory too.
  2. Purchase: out-of-stock is no longer an option for retailers today. With modern POS, endless aisle capabilities, mean shoppers can purchase goods from across an entire network, rather than being restricted by the availability of inventory at a single location.
  3. Post-purchase: stores have a critical role to play in the returns process, but without smart, joined-up store systems returned goods can often fall into an inventory ‘black hole.’

The industry has come a long way from the very first point of sale system invented by American shopkeeper James Ritty in 1879, to those that can now meet the needs of the 21st century shopper, irrespective of device or channel used.

But, as we observe an acceleration toward a true convergence point between physical and digital retail (fueled by the effects of the pandemic), it’s important for retailers to continue to innovate and remove any remaining points of friction from this reimagined shopping experience.

For example, if we go back to the perennial problem of out-of-stocks, it’s hard to believe that even in this day and age, only a small minority of retailers are capable of offering in-store purchasing from another store’s inventory or indeed from the warehouse. From a customer experience perspective, this feels dated, not only risking the sale but also brand loyalty too.

To truly reimagine the customer experience journey at a deeper level in 2022, we have to recognize that the role of the store is no longer limited to selling, rather bricks and mortar retail must be repositioned as a hub for fulfillment too.

The benefits of this approach have been played out over the last two years and continue to do so today: retailers with store fulfillment options see higher revenue growth — a 114% increase when click and collect is implemented and a 60% increase when ship from store is implemented.

The future of the customer experience journey is closely linked to e-commerce, and the future of e-commerce is intrinsically linked to the evolving capabilities offered by stores.

In order to meet supercharged customer expectations, retailers need to adopt a sell/fulfill/engage anywhere mentality. However, when it comes to future-ready POS implementation, brands often make three common mistakes,

  • Adopting a store-only plan which could limit future agility.
  • Minimal investment in change management leading to uncertainty or failure to thrive.
  • Selecting a “proven” vendor with old technology without consideration for new innovations.

All too often, brands are still thinking in silos. Instead, they need to develop a unified commerce roadmap (POS + clienteling + store fulfilment + customer engagement), make a clear plan for organizational change and select the right vendor capable of delivering against long-term, aspirational and often moving targets.

As the evolution of POS continues amidst the backdrop of a pandemic-effected economy, one thing has become clear: Customers are in the driving seat when it comes to how, when and where they want to shop.

It’s up to retailers to take the reins of this new customer experience journey and drive the narrative forward, but they can only do this by having sophisticated, modern POS and order management systems in place that support their customers varied shopping journeys.

Whether in-store, online, curbside, via mobile or even shopping via social media, ask yourself: Are you capable of delivering a seamless customer experience journey across all the places your brand is represented, both online and physically?

If the answer is no, maybe it’s the right time to talk about the evolution of your store systems and broader supply chain.

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