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Global Ecommerce and International Expansion | Pitney Bowes

The key to omnichannel success is customer-centricity

By Rachel Martin, Global Director Product Marketing, Global Ecommerce, Pitney Bowes

In today’s modern global retail environment, customers and businesses alike are increasingly empowered by the new digital technologies and channels available right at their fingertips. But, this explosion in increased connectivity has meant an overwhelming wave of data and information. Businesses are challenged more than ever before to adopt an Omni channel strategy and solutions to better manage that data deluge, understand their customers from every angle and surpass customers’ growing expectations for service.

What’s surprising is that, despite this pressing need to improve the customer experience, many businesses have been slow to adapt. According to research from IDC, only 20 percent of the top 250 retailers were expected to transform their channels and processes for the Omni channel customer experience in 2014.

And with customer satisfaction for retail down for the first time in four years, according to a recent report released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), businesses that don’t step up to find new solutions in this changing landscape risk losing their customers and falling behind the competition.

To fully deliver a successful Omni channel experience for their customers, retailers must turn to sophisticated solutions that help them meet and, hopefully, exceed their customer expectations. Solutions around customer engagement, information management and location intelligence allow retailers to develop a single view of their customer, understand their relationship, and optimize their interactions for better customer service across all channels.

So, how can retailers make the most of their Omni channel marketing strategy to better their customer experience across the board? The key is in making the customer the star of the show.

Personalization for Profit

The companies that best use an Omni channel marketing strategy do so during each and every interaction with customers. Kudos to the retailers that are successful performing at a high level on a single channel, like retailer Zippos®, which has a Twitter handle dedicated solely to customer service and is known for having one of the speediest Twitter response times. But for most, that’s no longer enough for retailers to drive global commerce growth and increase revenue.  

Customers have come to expect a seamless, relevant and personalized experience across all channels of communication, so it’s important for businesses to deliver that to ensure customer loyalty and reduce churn.

Every customer is unique and, as such, retailers need to treat each one differently. Everything from the location of their office to their dietary restrictions will impact each person’s individual shopping habits and needs. A mother of five children living in the suburbs will have distinctly different shopping preferences from a single female living in a big city.

Having insight into your customers means also identifying the events in their life that are motivating their shopping behaviors – whether it’s a new job, new baby or a move to a new home. When your customers are on the brink of entering an exciting new phase in their lives, they’re much more likely to need new products and services, thus opening the door for more personalized global retail opportunities.

For example, customer engagement solutions can help retailers identify those customers and distribute relevant offers and advertising to those customers around their move. Imagine you’ve just moved and finished unpacking your boxes, and you head out to check your new mailbox. You’re not expecting much, but you already have some coupons to the local Bed Bath & Beyond® and Crate & Barrel®, to stock up on some fresh items for your home.

An Omni channel strategy is a win-win for customers and retailers. The customers are happier and have a better customer experience because they’re receiving the applicable offers that they actually need, and retailers are equally satisfied as more of their offers hit the right mark – which means more money in their pockets.

Turning Data into Dialogue

Personalizing that global retail experience for your customer is key, but we know doing so isn’t easy. The growth in digital technologies and channels has meant that businesses have access to more customer data. But, it’s not just about the information you’ve collected, but what you do after you gain access to that rich data. What’s key is for retailers to capture that data, analyze it, and then turn that information into action to help them engage with that individual more personally and productively.

Retailers can implement solutions to collect customer information on what they buy, when they buy and how they buy, but if they don’t understand that information and use it to reflect how they interact with that customer in the future, then the value of that data is lost.

For example, solutions that use location intelligence technology take geographic data and enrich it with customer data and demographics to help a retailer identify the prime location for a store in a particular area. Depending on what that data tells them, they can even determine the type of stores to deploy, and stock the most appropriate product mix. Without these solutions, retailers risk opening the wrong type of store, in the wrong location and at the wrong time, and ultimately, risk seeing it fail.

Sometimes retailers are hampered from fully realizing the value of that data by the organizational and technological silos that exist across their business. There’s a wealth of data out there, but siloed structures mean that data is often fragmented and difficult to access, thus making it a challenge for retailers to get a complete view of their customers.

Retailers must implement solutions to help break down those silos and help unify their customer communications for a more fruitful global commerce and retail experience. High-end department store Nordstrom®, for example, is leading the pack with its investments in Omni channel strategy. The retailer launched a hand-held checkout device called Search & Send, to allow its salespeople to search the entire inventory for specific items and sizes to find the fastest, most efficient way to get that out-of-stock item to a customer. With a unified view like this, retailers can create more relevant, engaging and consistent customer interactions across every touch point and channel – whether it’s via social media, mobile, or a new channel that remains to be discovered.

The Future is Omni

The businesses that capitalize on the opportunities that an Omni channel strategy presents are well- positioned to move ahead of their competition. But as new technologies emerge and customer expectations continue to change, retailers need to adapt quickly to meet those changes head on.

By personalizing their global retail approach to each individual customer and working to squeeze the greatest value out of their customer data, retailers can equip themselves for success. In putting the solutions that they need in place now – whether customer engagement, information management, location intelligence solutions, or all of the above – retailers can better align their goals and messaging for global commerce across the company, and ultimately, improve customer experience and performance.

To learn more on the latest customer omnichannel experience, read our whitepaper “Delivering the omnichannel experience for borderless commerce” 

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