Omnichannel Excellence is the Difference Between Haves and Have-nots in Retail | Customer experience strategy

The lines between digital and physical shopping experiences have now blurred for good, and the retailers best prepared for this are those who deliver products and services to customers in real time, regardless of their channel of choice. .

Retailers sell goods and services to consumers. Either they have the right goods and services to sell and deliver, or they don’t.

Yes, the global challenges of the past two years have forced the retail sector to mobilize and digitize extremely quickly in order to stay in business, but retail customer journeys were shifting from physical to digital before COVID.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen the retail market split between traditional bricks-and-mortar and online services. And it’s not a landslide victory for online retail. In 2021, bricks-and-mortar sales grew faster than e-commerce as in-person shopping rebounded.

This results in a pressing need for retailers to ensure they can deliver a unified, consistent and real-time experience to customers, regardless of location and channel of choice, to truly achieve “omnichannel excellence”. and put customers at the center of every transaction.

Market pressures peak

The ripple effect of the pandemic has been felt across the retail sector, affecting more traditional or specialty retailers who typically rely on brick-and-mortar stores and service delivery.

Three key market pressures are driving this enduring evolution of retail.

First, the pandemic has shown many customers that they no longer need to physically shop for weekly groceries and other consumer goods. Second, global supply chain and logistics challenges continue to cause inventory challenges for retailers, often without any advance warning. Third, many retailers are witnessing the impact of the “big quit” and are having to manage labor shortages in all aspects, from head office to store, and from warehousing to distribution.

Traders react

Retailers are responding with innovations and improvements to their omnichannel service. According to a 2021 Global Retail Industry Digital Transformation Study by Fujitsu, retailers are already investing to better understand and serve their customers. Priority investments include combining their online and physical presence; monitor customer traffic flow and predict movement; improving the customer experience; and recommending and marketing products and services.

Lack of data visibility means you can’t see hurdles and hurdles to overcome

Another study found that 44% of retailers are primarily concerned about how the lack of real-time data can lead to decisions being made on inconsistent or outdated information. Additionally, 65% recognized the benefits of real-time data for their business operations. To be successful, retailers must unify data from all channels that may be scattered across point-of-sale, e-commerce, ERP, and other systems.

Many retailers are also hindered from providing an exceptional customer experience and offering truly omnichannel service due to legacy systems, poor ad-hoc application integration, and late or inaccurate notification of important data events that have occurred. . Without integrating all the disparate data and making it available to other applications in real time, it’s nearly impossible to deliver a fully connected omnichannel customer experience.

But what if there was a way for retailers to respond to everyone and address these events across their entire organization, suppliers, and end customers?

Get into event architecture and why it’s essential for real-time retail

A seamless retail experience should cut across the entire business: employees, vendors, and customers. Remember that they all do something different with data and therefore require a different software architecture paradigm approach to moving data. Enter Event Driven Architecture (EDA).

Each retail transaction creates data, such as product purchased, price, and customer name. Software developers call this transaction an “event”. Other events may include customer purchases on a mobile app; online returns; facial recognition of a VIP customer entering a store; personnel interruptions; detect an arriving vehicle for click and collect; or the last inventory purchased.

Delivering these events in real time across an organization is a fundamental tenet of omnichannel success, ensuring the continuous processing of real-time data directly as it is produced.

Real-time event streaming must connect event “brokers” – essentially hardware, software, or SaaS technology used to pass information between the applications that create the events (producers) and those that receive the events ( consumers). Most often, brokers use a publish-subscribe model to achieve this.

In retail terms, this could apply to stores, IoT applications, e-commerce platforms, warehouses, head office, whatever system, cloud or protocols are involved. The result is an enterprise-wide event broker network – or “event mesh” – that is dynamic, open, simple, and available everywhere.

Real-time omnichannel success means a 360° view

Adopting an event-driven architecture approach delivers measurable benefits to retailers, including unifying their physical and digital operations and gaining a real-time 360° view of customers, inventory and the entire supply/value chain.

Les Mousquetaires, one of Europe’s leading retail distributors, operates several different brands for different retail segments. Les Mousquetaires has built a new digital foundation that streamlines its supply chain and improves the shopping experience for its customers across physical and e-commerce channels.

In the past two years alone, Les Mousquetaires has deployed over 450 new real-time event streams into production, successfully implementing EDA for multiple use cases. These include the use of artificial intelligence to dramatically improve order accuracy and the automatic delivery of real-time product updates, allowing it to change product prices when and as needed.

Supporting the meta-driven future of retail

Longer term, EDA and real-time event streaming will have a huge role to play in the meta-driven future of retail – where the digital and physical worlds increasingly combine in new ways. and exciting.

Imagine a retailer being able to “future store” inventory data, especially for stores in some of the most remote and disconnected locations where connectivity interruptions lead to issues reconciling service levels. stock to meet customer orders. Suppose these stock events can be stacked on the edges of the networks to provide regular updates to stores and customers warning them to take alternative action to get the product they want.

With perishables, consider IoT-enabled heat lamps at hot food counters. By linking expiration data to an analytics engine, event streaming can inform stores when food should be removed from the shelf. There is also potential for fully connected price stickers. These digital price tags could take into account events generated throughout a product’s supply chain to change in-store prices in real time.

Next, we have the power of push notifications. As we blend the physical and digital worlds and become part of customer habits, real-time event streaming offers retailers the ability to target customers who may have searched for a product online but have left abandoned in their basket. By linking location data to customer behavior, stores could send real-time push notifications to customers using their retail apps, if at some point the customer walks past a store that has inventory for the item they are shopping for. ‘he previously left behind.

It’s clear from these and other common retail scenarios that EDA serves as the necessary digital backbone to improve omnichannel experiences, helping retailers realize significant cost savings, optimize supply chain efficiencies, and procurement and build customer loyalty, which ultimately leads to increased revenue and profitability. .

A true omnichannel experience will separate the retail leaders from the laggards

Retailers who react to quick events in the moment, as they happen, will develop a competitive advantage over those who don’t.

Event streaming and event management, supported by IT infrastructure based on the event architecture paradigm, are the emerging technologies that power real-time event businesses that can build retail excellence. omnichannel – and differentiate between haves and have-nots.

About Timothy Cheatham

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