Oracle Retail Blog helps retailers stay current on customer successes, hot retail trends and industry best practices.

Choreographing the omnichannel retail experience

Rose Spicer
Global Senior Director

Twenty years ago, the extent of customer data collection in the retail space was knowing a buyer’s name – if you were lucky. From that one kernel of information, marketing, and customer experience experts hoped to create targeted marketing profiles, build retail loyalty programs, and foster long-term relationships. Doing so successfully often felt more like reading the tea leaves than any sustainable operational method. The industry was naturally built more around the quality of merchandise than customer relations. But now, the growing prominence of retail omnichannel capabilities and user data collection have given retail brands a comprehensive view of their customers’ deepest desires

Instead of reading tea leaves, choreographing the physical and digital retail experience became more like putting together a soufflé. The work no longer lies in digging for information – it’s now baked into the operation – but in determining how the components come together to make a masterpiece of the retail experience. In effect, technology provides retailers the opportunity to earn loyalty by offering engaging and seamless experiences across more than 70 unique customer journeys. And with the right solutions and processes, retailers feel a positive impact at every level of the enterprise by flawless crafting initiatives across point-of-service, retail ecommerce, loss prevention, and order management systems. We sat down with our omnichannel retail solution expert Corey Gale following a detailed briefing with IDC to learn more.

According to IDC, Oracle’s proficiency and collaborative strength in this area are recognized throughout the retail industry. IDC recently named the company a ‘Leader’ in its annual evaluation of Retail Commerce Platforms, saying “Oracle supports retail teams throughout projects and demonstrates particular attention in managing the relationship effectively.” 

The Customer

Retailers can’t just look at the bottom line – their priority must be the customer. An omnichannel shopper is the most profitable customer a brand can have, so determining how best to attract and drive loyalty from these customers is what can springboard a retailer into a new level of competition. 

According to recent consumer research conducted by Oracle, 55% of global consumers said a great price was still the best way to turn them from a browser into a buyer. But ultimately, the price point is far from the only factor. About 49% said special offers and discounts encouraged them to buy, while 25% said immediate availability and fast shipping made a significant impact. That’s where the technology comes in. 

While anyone can change a price, delivering a sufficient, fulfilling experience in these other areas necessitates the implementation of new retail tactics, such as targeted marketing and flexible order management system software. Unfortunately, cobbling together legacy systems to match these customer standards is a near-impossible task that leads to broken experiences and low retention. Retailers need to conduct a complete technological overhaul to address customer needs fully, but some investments offer quick ROI and can pay for the next initiative. The key is to adopt a platform that contracts and grows with the business and enables new service models. 

Retailers seek to have a comprehensive understanding of their customer preferences and history to create a compelling shopping experience – even a virtual or curbside one amid the global pandemic. As new platforms collect this data, brands can harness them to truly revolutionize shopping for the better, whether through personalized offerings, reward campaigns, new store functionalities, or any number of other improvements.

For brands, taking control of future success comes down to putting the customer at the core of every business decision they make, thereby forging real connections with tomorrow’s brand ambassadors. People appreciate a genuine connection and demonstration of customer commitment from brands during this unpredictable time. 

The Associate

The retail store associate can make or break the brand experience. In reality, brands would be nothing if not for the hard-working employees making sales in-store and ensuring the endless aisle becomes a reality. It’s important to note that cutting-edge customer experience technology can help them do their job better than ever.

Around 71% of global consumers said the speed of service, checkout experience, and delivery options were crucial in encouraging them to stay loyal to a retailer. The interaction between an associate and a customer, online or in-store, can truly make or break a sale. That’s why it’s critical to equip associates with all the tools they need to excel at their job, particularly given the high industry turnover rate.

Fortunately, a retail technology platform can significantly simplify this entire process. Customers’ personal information can be automatically collected and filed away, whether it’s logged in-store by an associate or submitted online. That information can then be easily accessed whenever the customer returns – allowing for personalized responses much more quickly than the inconsistent filing systems of days past. 

“Consumers don’t have the patience to give brands their information twice. Once a retailer or associate knows a customer’s preferred sizes or brands, they won’t take kindly to being asked to restate that information, particularly if the information is of a private or personal nature. But that’s the beauty of an automated system: it doesn’t forget,” said Corey Gale, Solution Director, Oracle Retail. 

By putting more reliable and useful customer data in associates’ hands, retailers can help their employees access the power of omniscience to give customers a fully personalized shopping experience that keeps them coming back for more.  

The Retailer

Amid the global economic and regulatory uncertainty caused by the pandemic, retailers are scrambling to maintain control of their operations and continue to deliver trustworthy customer experiences. 

“The massive shift to ecommerce for the foreseeable future has left brands trying to brainstorm new strategies for turning their browsers into buyers,” commented Gale. “Customer experience solutions like those provided by Oracle – such as a heat map that tracks shoppers’ behaviors – can help brands employ creative levers of demand that trigger purchasing impulses in customers who want a personal touch.”

The business benefits of implementing these solutions are wide-ranging: Brands can enjoy better customer experiences, repeat customers, and higher basket values. And a consistent shopping experience across platforms also naturally appeals to more multichannel shoppers – the most valuable of all customers. 

Omnichannel solutions can also provide an economic boon by way of their positive impact on internal efficiency. One Oracle customer recently told us they were prepared to fulfill 450,000 brokered orders over the next year. But due to the pandemic, they ended up receiving more than 4 million orders in just three months. Thanks to their back-end systems’ agility and flexibility, they somehow managed to fulfill every single one.

As the retail world grows more complex and overwhelming by the day, retailers can still maintain control of their destinies back from COVID-19 and other disruptive events. Investing in omnichannel retail technology and following through on its implementation could be the key to unlocking a sustainable retail future that satisfies the storefront, back office, and boardroom alike. 

For more on Oracle’s retail and customer experience offerings, see the 2020 IDC Report here

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