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Study: Retailers seek seamless store capabilities

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers’ top priorities for POS and customer engagement reinforce the concept of the store as the foundation of an omnichannel enterprise.

According to the Boston Retail Partners (BRP) 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, a leading 85% of respondents said having a unified commerce platform that seamlessly operates across all commerce channels is a top priority. Another 68% cited customer experience and engagement as a top priority.

Interestingly, only 38% of respondents mentioned payment security, a significant drop from the 63% who said it was a top priority in 2015. The efforts during the past year of many retailers to at least partially comply with the October 2015 EMV mandate likely drove this reduction in prioritization.

Unified commerce has been a top three priority for the past three years, as retailers attempt to provide effective omnichannel transactional functionality. In addition, as consumers become accustomed to high levels of personalization via mobile and online channels, retailers need to focus on elevating in-store customer experience and engagement to the same level, explaining why this area is such as high priority.

This is reinforced by customer identification/personalization being the most popular subcategory of customer experience and engagement (62%), substantially beating out other areas such as empowering associates with mobile tools (40%) and real-time retail (38%).

The study also shows that retailers are aware of the need for the elimination of silos among different areas of the enterprise in order to truly deliver an omnichannel customer experience. More than a third of the respondents are currently able to monitor and act on in-store inventory issues in real time, enabling satisfying engagement and meeting expectations of buying, picking up and delivering products anywhere at any time.

Furthermore, within three years, 26% of retailers plan to implement the ability to monitor and react to traffic and weather information in their area. With this information, retailers can offer time-sensitive promotions such as reserving and delivering snow shovels in advance of a major snowstorm, or offering free coffee to store customers during a traffic jam. This type of information is key to personalizing the shopping experience based on ‘customer context.’

“Saddled with legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment, retailers have scrambled to cobble things together in attempts to deliver the omnichannel capabilities customers expect,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Retailers need to invest in infrastructure, networks and service oriented architecture (SOA) layer and do it right. The risk of losing customers due to disappointing shopping experiences caused by a flawed omnichannel architecture is deadly and that is why “real” unified commerce is retailers’ top priority for 2016.”

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