Retailing used to be so simple; you’d advertise to drive traffic to your store or website. You worked on converting as many people as possible. This meant training up your sales associates and fine tuning your website design.
In those days customers’ expectations were easy. They thought of retailers as dumb organisations with untrained team members. That was acceptable.
Things have changed. Awesome data driven and highly personalised experiences have change consumer expectations. We no longer will tolerate much inconvenience.
The cloud-based business software vendor Salesforce in June this year acquired DemandWare. Last week the product line was renamed to Commerce Cloud.
We spoke with Jeff Barnett, CEO of Commerce Cloud at Salesforce. Here are his top tips for retailers in this new age of expectation:
- Consistency - Every touchpoint with the retailer must feel the same whether delivered on social media, on your website, on a mobile phone and in-store.
- Mobile first – Desktop visits to e-commerce websites is dropping, and mobile visits are increasing. Some retailers are seeing 60% of their traffic from mobile devices. Your website must be designed for an awesome mobile phone experience.
- Fewer clicks – Your visitors won’t tolerate too many clicks to find the product they want. Make search instant and amazingly efficient.
- Wish lists – Encourage curation of your products in a clever shopping cart.
- Easy payments – You must have already worked out their currency and provide them as many payment options as possible.
- Click & collect – You must enable visitors to purchase online and try on the product or pick it up from their local store. Have the product waiting
- In-store resolution – When something goes wrong, allow your online buys to return or exchange the product in a store.
- Save the sale – When the size or the colour isn’t right, your retail associates need to be trained to save the sale by arranging for it to be delivered.
Advanced retailers will do:
- Cart everywhere – You need to setup advanced cookie & IP tracking to enable persistent shopping carts across multiple devices.
- Social shopping – Social Media tools are a great way to leverage influencers into recommending your products. New tools from Pinterest allow ‘buyable pins’ which in turn allows one click to a shopping cart experiences.
- Payment trends – Accept new payment methods like Apple Pay. These are often designed for a quicker experience with fewer clicks.
- Connect the silos – Match as much data about the clients as possible across social, web, mobile, in-store, contact centre, loyalty and complaint systems.
- In-store intelligence – Use the data you’ve collected about the visitor and provide this to the in-store associates. If it’s a click and collect client, expect their visit.
Cloud-based tools like Commerce Cloud from Salesforce are built with these new consumer expectations in mind. They call this new customer-centric experience ‘unified commerce”.
While only 7-10% of commerce happens online right now, this is a fast-growing proportion.
Barnett believes it’s still early days with unified commerce, although he encourages retailers to be experimenting with new ideas in the field.
He’s it as logical that this experimentation is much easier in cloud-based systems like their own.
“I don’t think anybody has nailed the full customer experience yet, it’s evolving so quickly,” says Barnett
Although he was certain of one thing. “Those that adopt these new retailing techniques will win and those that don’t will perish”.