Delivering a seamless customer experience across all channels

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 04 July 2014
Delivering a seamless customer experience across all channels

Richard Carter, Ecrebo’s vice president of Channels and Strategic Alliances, discusses how a seamless customer experience across all channels can bring a range of benefits to companies, and how his company’s technology, which uses Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, is helping retailers make positive changes.

What challenges do retailers face in providing a consistent and connected experience across all channels and all devices throughout the entire shopping journey? How do they cater for the channel hopping consumer?

Retailers are continually challenged by new consumer habits and behaviours, such as showrooming and shopping over multiple channels. The reality is that customers are shopping constantly due to the rise of mobile devices.

A John Lewis report published last November said that 40% of its digital traffic was through mobile devices, while around 30% of all sales were generated online. Despite this, 40% of online orders were picked up in-store.

With customers shopping over multiple channels there is a need to ensure that they are being engaged in a consistent manner to avoid any collision or conflict that may be confusing for the customer.

Ecrebo technology is helping retailers like M&S identify ‘channel hopping consumers’ by targeting individuals who have shopped in-store and/or online in real-time at the point of sale (POS). This real-time capability means that the engagement they are given can be tailored to their channel preferences, or even their absence from a particular channel, helping to manage and engage them across and in-between online and in-store.

The retail market is now experiencing a proliferation in the number of payment card and bank related targeted offers. The challenge for both the retailers and the publishing platforms is having a way to accept and validate these offers at the POS. In addition there is the added challenge of these offers only being targeted at store level rather than product level. Retailers have a requirement to deliver offers at either category or product level. The main driver of this is that 80% of all promotional activity in the UK is funded by suppliers who require the validation that the associated product was bought as per the conditions of their sponsored offer.

Ecrebo specifically addresses these challenges by enabling retailers who run our software to process and validate promotions at product level. This allows retailers to more effectively use these payment level tools, deliver a truly personalised customer journey and above all deliver higher absolute returns.

What additional problems do they face when trying to extend this experience to the after sales and customer service areas?

There are three major retail challenges regarding after sales and customer services: - Knowing which customers you want to communicate with - Knowing the best way to engage with them effectively - Asking them to invest time and effort to provide you with feedback.

Ecrebo is helping retailers in this regard by solving these challenges with a two-pronged approach that is transforming the way feedback and after sales is managed.

Ecrebo’s Targeted Customer Feedback solution allows customers to easily provide feedback by scanning a unique QR code at the bottom of their receipt. Scanning this delivers three concise questions that are fully targeted to the customer on the basis of their basket, their membership profile or status. The accessibility and relevance of the interaction allows retailers to capture customer service related data over a much wider audience. It also expedites customer feedback from those without an extreme service experience – positive or negative.

Secondly, Ecrebo provides a digital receipt capability that allows retailers to deliver targeted content and prompts for feedback alongside the online copy of the receipt they receive. In the absence of a loyalty programme and the requisite contact details Ecrebo allows retailers to rapidly capture customer e-mail addresses at the POS with our ‘Qwik Complete’ e-mail capture POS Extension Layer.

How can retailers deliver a personal, seamless and differentiated experience to consumers that want to shop at anytime, anywhere any on different devices?

The foundations for this is customer insight, knowing what the customer has bought, where and when they have shopped and using which channel. Only with real-time visibility of these data points can you deliver a truly personalised, seamless and differentiated experience.

Ecrebo’s technology spans multiple channels but it is our differentiated POS capability combined with the reality that bricks and mortar transactions are typically five to eight times the volume of their online counterpart, which enables our retailers to get to this insight position very quickly.

Ecrebo had processed over a billion customer baskets and delivered over 200 million targeted interactions in the last two years as a result of being able to easily use and act upon this insight lead position.

What are the benefits of doing this and how can retailers measure the success of their efforts?

Ecrebo has delivered redemption and engagements rates up to 15 times their non-profiled counterparts.

A methodical and controlled approach to measuring success is always required. Best practice use of both permanent and campaign control group methodology is always advised but the focus always remains with the data level across the complete customer journey.

Ecrebo’s technology fully supports this approach by allowing retailers to configure both permanent and campaign control groups. Additionally Ecrebo gives any POS the ability to validate the customer unique barcodes that our system generates.

How can retailers use the data they are gathering to gain better (and real-time) insight that will help them with the current shopping experience, as well as anticipate future needs and improve the lifetime value of the customer?

Your question highlights a key point in a world where ‘big data’ and reference to its power are made but often with no means to either understand it or make it actionable.

Making data and insight actionable across all channels with an output that is both consistent and personal is the real challenge and is where Ecrebo is helping their customers.

I come back to a key point made earlier about Bricks and Mortar retail still accounting for five to eight times the overall sales volume of its online counterpart. By making the insight actionable in real time at point of sale, the retailer can take advantage of the high proportion of shopping in store.

Ecrebo understands this and enhances the often ignored primary channel in the multichannel landscape, the POS. The POS and the interactions at it are the only guaranteed in-store interactions that retailers have with their customers. Since this represents the overwhelming majority of interactions, delivering an insight lead real-time interaction as part of this process is of utmost importance.

Using Ecrebo’s Multi Channel Offer and Rewards Engine, retailers have delivered over 200 million real-time targeted engagements at the POS, helping to ensure that customers are being addressed in a manner that is reflective of all interactions made with them.

Through both Ecrebo’s Digital Receipt Technology and Targeted Engagement at the POS capability we have helped to significantly enhance customer lifetime value. The principle for delivering of this has centred on transforming a single channel customer into a multichannel customer. The challenge is knowing which customers are which.

Ecrebo supports retailers in performing real-time analysis to identify if they have previously served a customer by a particular channel or not.  Ecrebo can then immediately action this insight with a targeted engagement to get customers back online or online for the first time.

Is there a difference in the way that traditional pure play retailers and online retailers approach this and, if so, why and what are the differences?

Certainly, and it centres about what customer data is available, what customer data you can use and what customer data you can use to create an actionable interaction. The principle variance is the means of communication you have with the customer on the assumption that you can make your data actionable.

Online, you can leverage typical online data capture feeds such cookies, previous online purchases and e-mail. In-store you can use interactive displays and media that allows you to explore or discover more about the product.

From a bricks and mortar perspective the most effective method of using real-time data to enhance the customer shopping experience is demonstrated by targeted promotions at the till. This currently represents the single most effective way to make real-time in-store data ‘actionable’, helping retailers to manage the subsequent interaction that customer has with them. Listening and monitoring the effectiveness of this inevitably enables the retailer to both anticipate future needs and improve the lifetime value of the customer.

Can you give some examples of retailers who are doing this well?

Marks & Spencer and Shell are good examples of retailers who understand that making data actionable in real-time and at scale using Ecrebo software is a key part of their customer value proposition.

What’s next for omni-channel retailing and how can retailers ensure they don’t fall behind?

There has been much discussion about in-store technology and location based technology. There is likely to be a move in this direction but we are yet to see how this is to be received by customers. With a number of retailers finding it a challenge to manage customers across online and bricks and mortar already, adding this additional dimension may be some way off.

In terms of omni-channel, with particular reference to delivering a seamless experience across channels, the foundation lies in being able to identify and associate your customers to a unique identifier. If you have an identifier, basket context, and a way to deliver communication in real-time and make this actionable you will always be ahead of the competition.

Ecrebo allows all transactions to be identified and has a suite of capabilities that allow for a targeted and actionable interaction across a multiple array of existing and emerging channels.

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