In a new blog post for Microsoft’s retail industry page, Roland Glidden, director of Business Development at Hitachi Solutions, has outlined the key topics that those visiting NRF’s annual conference in New York next week should pay attention to. Here’s his roundup:
Increased focus on unified commerce
Your customers shop via many channels, and they expect the same experience no matter which channel they are using. Unified commerce offers a seamless shopping experience by uniting all channels, from mobile to online to brick-and-mortar. This allows for real-time support and visibility, ultimately resulting in greater customer engagement.
A solid unified commerce platform is critical for handling omni-channel returns. As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, more people are making returns. With a unified commerce solution, shoppers can return items to a brick-and-mortar store or by mail to the e-commerce store, regardless of which channel they used for purchase. With all purchases and returns housed in one centralised system, receipts are easily digitised helping retailers streamline business and provide a better shopping experience for customers.
Too many retailers are still relying on disparate systems with no way of integrating POS, inventory, and ecommerce. Fortunately, there are tools to help, and companies like Microsoft are now offering retail solutions that bundle software and tools into one platform, making it easy to set in place the foundation for a unified commerce strategy.
Ensuring that all processes and programs integrate and work seamlessly together is crucial in achieving a unified commerce strategy. From enterprise ERP and CRM systems to applying advanced analytics and machine learning, a number of connected solutions work together to deliver the innovative customer engagement, workforce empowerment, and operational insights required for successful business transformation.
At NRF 2018 be sure to catch the presentation ‘Creating the Supply Chain of the Future’ by Spencer Fung, CEO of Li & Fung, who will share the key to building an effective and successful digital foundation for your company.
Upgrading CRM loyalty programmes
Loyalty programmes are gaining in popularity as they mature beyond basic points- or purchase-based systems. Today’s loyalty programmes feature advanced personalisation strategies.
According to the IHL Group survey ‘How Retail Leaders are Redefining IT and Transforming the Customer Experience’, upgrading CRM loyalty programmes is the top retail IT priority among companies surveyed, with 59% of companies listing it as a focus in terms of process and technologies.
In the age of big data, it’s all about personalisation, no matter what industry you’re in. By collecting each customer’s purchase data, a complete picture of a shopper’s habits and preferences is captured, making it possible for retailers to offer targeted and personalised offers to each customer. Loyalty programmes fit into a unified commerce strategy by enabling retailers to track purchases and points, whether a shopper buys online or in store; offer customised rewards; and implement real-time in store offers to enable guided selling.
At NRF 2018 be sure to catch the presentation by James Curleigh, president of Levi’s, who will discuss how brands can inject innovation and creativity all while staying true to their heritage.
Embracing intelligent retail solutions
Intelligent retail solutions are transforming how retailers connect with shoppers across channels, and are enabling in-store associates to exceed customer demands. And it’s not just ecommerce stores that are leveraging innovation in tech but brick-and-mortar stores as well. Using cutting-edge tactics such as connected fitting rooms, near field communication, virtual reality and artificial intelligence brick and mortar stores are stepping up their game to deliver a cutting-edge consumer experience.
In order to implement these tactics, however, data is critical. For example, for connected fitting rooms to function they need to be connected to a database that allows customers to explore products – and that database needs to be connected to a system that manages what sizes, styles, colors, etc., are available. This data is collected using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Microsoft offers leading innovation in this space, with products such as Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Azure offering key operational insights.
At NRF 2018 be sure to catch the keynote by Toni Townes-Whitley, corporate vice president of Worldwide Public Sector and Industry at Microsoft, who will join leading brands Luxottica and The Schwarz Gruppe to discuss the future of intelligent retail as they share their stories of digital transformation.
Strategising for mobile
In order to keep up with shifting shopping habits, including an increase in online shopping and higher expectations for personalised experiences, an updated mobile POS is a necessity. Managers and store associates should also have access to mobile devices to engage with shoppers on the floor. In fact, Forrester forecasts purchases from mobile devices will double by 2020 to reach an impressive US$250 billion worth of transactions.
At NRF 2018 be sure to catch the presentation by Mary Campbell, executive vice president of Commerce Platforms at QVC, and Todd Sprinkle, CIO of QVC, who will outline the importance of IT and business working together to solve key challenges facing many retailers.