2017 promises new challenges and change across the retail sector. Yet, where those previous challenges were often met with technological advances or new approaches to consumer interactions, the best way for retailers to confront the trends of 2017 is with a close evaluation of their foundation. This involves consolidating their core systems and initiating a one-system approach. With a one-system approach, back-end enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and order and inventory management systems will reside on one platform. Retailers can then get a single source of the truth for customer, order and inventory data in real-time, making that data available to all existing and future front-end, customer-facing systems.
Only with a clear understanding of what their existing systems are capable of and where they need to go, can retailers then begin to address the most important trends in 2017.
The Enabled Store
Gone are the days where brick and mortar stores can operate as an island, separate from the other sales and service channels a retailer may have. In order to meet current buy anywhere, get anywhere expectations, stores need to be part of the supply chain. Access to real-time, customer and inventory data will also empower the sales associate to be able to sell and service better.
Online Retailers Incorporate Brick and Mortar into their Brand Experience
With the popularity of online shopping, many have been proclaiming the death of physical stores. But now we are seeing online only retailers are embracing the use of brick and mortar stores by transforming them to use as showrooms, service and experience centers for shoppers.
Today’s shopper expects an anytime, anywhere commerce experience. How frustrating is it as a customer to see the words “out of stock.” Having readily available inventory that can be shipped to a customer is a major competitive advantage in retail. Creating an “endless aisle” makes it possible to ensure your inventory is always available to customers – and you never miss another sale.
Deeper, Relevant Engagements
It’s all about the data. Whether a shopper has abandoned items in their cart, viewed a product page on a retailer’s ecommerce site, made purchases online or in-store, or called your customer care center, this is all information that should be used to engage shoppers to help drive loyalty and grow brand spend.
Alternative Purchasing Options
Retailers are using subscription services as a new way to entice shoppers to purchase. These are typically boxes of products sent regularly to customers based on their preferences. Birchbox and Blue Apron are some well-known names, but thousands more have jumped on the scene. Subscription models offer business predictable cash flow without relying on the customer to return to the store or website.
There are many trends that will influence the retail industry over the next 12 months, but without a solid foundation, retailers will be at a competitive disadvantage.
Investing in the right technology in 2017 will put you in a position to deliver engaging and consistent brand experiences to your customers, and get you on the path to omnichannel evolution.
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Have an immensely successful 2017!!!