It’s no secret that today’s shopper is empowered. In addition to providing access to myriad brands at the touch of a button (or swipe of a screen), the Internet of Things (IoT) also enables nearly instant feedback and gratification, and as such, consumers expect the same timeliness from the retail companies they love, and for the few that miss the mark, there is an entire virtual ecosystem of competitors with access to faster delivery times, quicker turnarounds, and swifter rollouts.
To this end, retail companies looking to stand out in the digital space are making strategic investments in digital technology that can not only get them closer to the customers they serve, but can help them secure their loyalty and long-term business through enabling the type of efficient distribution systems and supply chains required to fulfill their demands.
A Growing Sector: Meeting Expectations for Shipping, Delivery, and More
As more and more shoppers expect quicker shipping and delivery times, this type of expedited service has shifted from a nice-to-have feature for businesses with the capability to provide it, to an expected inclusion on almost all purchases—and one that customers are less than willing to shell out extra dollars to enjoy. In fact, Deloitte’s 2015 Holiday Survey found that, on average, the maximum amount that shoppers are willing to pay above and beyond standard shipping costs for same-day delivery is five dollars, with nearly a quarter of shoppers (24 percent) unwilling to pay anything extra for same-day delivery. What does this mean for retailers as we move further into 2016? Establishing supply chains that are not only fast, but also incredibly efficient, has never been more important.
In an interview for Deloitte’s 2016 Retail and Distribution Industry Outlook, Rod Sides, vice chairman, U.S. Retail and Distribution leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, cites that moving forward, one key way retailers can improve efficiencies in this space is by offering more diverse and dynamic fulfillment opportunities (think buying online and picking up in store). Maximizing this service opportunity requires an in-store staff that’s not only knowledgeable on brand products and services, but that can easily retrieve up-to-the-minute inventory updates, so associates are always ready to answer shopper questions on delivery timelines and availability. To this end, a proven CRM system is key, providing the data required to manage store inventory and ensure goods are available when customers need them. In addition, integration with existing, third-party software such as Supply Chain Management and back office applications, drives an enterprise-wide view of the business, so employees are always equipped with the data they need to provide a superior customer experience.
What’s New and Next: CRM Driving Retailer Growth
In keeping with the importance of speed and agility in the retail sector, Sides also notes that striking a balance between the digital and physical customer experience will be a critical consideration as retail executives look to improve operations and boost sales. One major sector impacted by this initiative: traditional retailers, who, in an effort to keep up with their digital counterparts must meet new expectations for speed to market, transitioning from rolling out new products, ideas, and services over the span of a few years to doing so in a matter of mere weeks. Once again, insights and data captured within CRM software can (and should) play a key role in this movement.
By providing an inside look at information such as customer preferences and purchase histories, CRM helps companies more quickly realize what’s hot and what’s not (i.e. what’s selling and what’s stalling), as well as gain perspective on any new concepts or solutions worth exploring. Then, once rollout occurs, performance analytics are available to track progress and successes, so executives can better prepare and plan for their next move.
Overall, it’s clear to see that in the game of retail, “getting ahead” figuratively requires actually getting ahead literally—being the first to offer the type of superior support and swift service your audience craves, and doing so accurately and professionally. Yet, before you can cater to your customers, you have to know them first—and CRM can get you there.
“2016 Retail and Distribution Industry Outlook: Interview with Rod Sides,” Deloitte, http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/retail-distribution-industry-outlook.html.
Rod Sides and Susan K. Hogan, “Deloitte’s 2015 Annual Holiday Survey: Embracing Retail Disruption,” Deloitte University Press, October 26, 2015, http://dupress.com/articles/holiday-retail-sales-consumer-survey/.