Customer engagement demands retail reorientation
In today's environment, where mobile devices, e-commerce sites, social media, apps and other online tools are making it possible for customers to easily browse, shop and buy across multiple retail touch points, anywhere at any time, retailers must reorient their strategies around the customer to enhance their ability to engage, participate and execute.
This is according to Wayne Usie, senior vice president of retail at JDA Software, a consultancy company that provides supply chain management, retail planning and collaborative category management solutions.
He says that customers expect to receive personalised communications based on their individual interactions with a retailer.
Therefore, if a retail organisation is getting insight about a customer or customer segment, from their online activities, that data should be consolidated and fed into a proactive decision framework to guide the retailer's future behaviour and communication with the customer.
Usie adds that today's path to purchase often involves more than one channel. As such, retailers need to have a better understanding of how customers search across channels and the type of products they search for in order to customise each assortment regardless of channel.
Retailers need to leverage the customer interaction insights so they can start making assortment decisions based on real-time customer preferences, says Usie. He believes that assortment planners must have the power to link assortments with delivery mechanisms in order to make it easy for customers to get the product in the way that they choose.
Usie maintains that in order to offer assortments regardless of channel, retailers need the back-end means to send the product anywhere in the supply chain in the most cost-effective manner. This means that returns should be as fluid as sales or as transfers to different stores.
However, the challenge is in making the economics behind it work in favour of the organisation. This requires investment in retail supply chain planning and execution technology and processes that support a much greater level of supply chain agility while maintaining a profit, he says.
Although it's important to meet customers' delivery preferences, profit rules must be established to ensure that a retailer maintains profitability while delivering on its customer's choices, says Usie.
He points out that the more capabilities that retailers can build into their intelligence gathering and order-management decision making, the easier it is for them to establish granular rule sets based on segments and specific customer behaviour.
As the industry braces for massive change in the next five years, visionary CEOs must evolve their retail enterprises - the people, processes, partners and technologies- to address the needs of the new consumer, concludes Usie.