One of the top business challenges facing retailers today is having the ability to track customer shopping experiences across a variety of channels. By gaining a more complete view of customer activity via online and in-store, as well as mobile and social networking sites, retailers can leverage their ability to increase sales and improve customer loyalty.
As a matter of fact, a recent RIS Thought Leadership report illustrates that multi-channel retailers project the most gain (83%) at the in-store level, compared to 11.9% in e-commerce, 4.7% in direct and call-center, and 0.4% in m-commerce.
Bottom line is that cross-channel customers are more profitable than single channel customers “which makes them worthwhile to pursue,” says Nikki Baird, Principal Analyst, Retail Systems Research RSR.
Within their recent study “The Cross-Channel Wake-up Call,” RSR discovered that three of the top four technology enablers valued by survey respondents were all about creating visibility: customer visibility, inventory visibility and enterprise analytics.
Tadd Wilson, Senior Managing Consultant, Retail Store Solutions (RSS) for IBM Systems and Technology Group sees a real emphasis on the demand for cross-channel analytics.
“For some retailers, what a customer does online and what a customer does in-store are two separate ‘histories’ trapped in different sets of data. Advanced analytics can help unify these histories even if the data structures don't match up,” explains Wilson. “It can also help retailers understand what types of promotions to offer in which channels,” he adds.
Wilson says that RSS is also working with large national grocers to insure that items ordered online, but picked up in-store, “flow through the POS and back to the enterprise system to preserve a single view of inventory sold and customer transactions,” and adds that many of IBM’s RSS POS application partners, such as PCMS and Epicor, have been actively ramping up their multi-channel capabilities due to the noticeable influx of retailers raising their hands to get in on the cross-channel “action.”
“It goes beyond visibility to action-ability,” says Wilson. “For example, being able to order from a retail webpage while in-store at the point of sale, is something we see a lot of interest in from specialty and general merchandise. The needs and priorities tend to vary across segments.”
And he should know a thing or two about cross-channel priorities, since IBM’s WebSphere Commerce, along with their premier partner, CrossView, are two of the pioneers in cross-channel commerce solutions.
Over the past few years, their dynamic partnership has enabled specialty retailers like Moosejaw Mountaineering and vineyard vines® to achieve monumental success by integrating the best of each channel into a single platform to create a superior, customer-centric experience
The CrossView cross-channel solution is based on IBM WebSphere Commerce and leverages IBM’s Retail Integration Framework. The technology includes an array of precision marketing features and “conversation-starters” that can be leveraged to engage customers and grow sales across all channels.
“What IBM and CrossView did was it enabled us to have this multi-channel approach where we were able to segment our customers and get the data to improve both their needs and our needs,” says Shep Murray, CEO and co-founder of vineyard vines
Murray’s brother and co-founder, Ian Murray, agrees that having a consolidated, cross-channel view of customers has enormous benefits. “We believe that we are not only going to make the customer have a better experience, but that it’s going to turn dollars into profits for our business and allow us to grow.”