Boost shopper satisfaction with best-of-breed software
It was the summer of 1996 and an all-female British pop group were screaming: “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.” Fast-forward two and half decades later and there’s still a lot we can learn from the refrain in The Spice Girls’ smash hit Wannabe.
Because how well do you know your shoppers? Do you know what they want? What they really, really want? And, most importantly, can you give it to them?
Before the pandemic hit, the pendulum of what shoppers want had swung firmly over to the ‘stores-as-an-experience’ model. Increasingly, retailers were looking for ways to create unique and memorable shopping experiences for their customers.
The theory of the ‘stores-as-an-experience’ retail strategy goes that by creating immersive experiences that leave a lasting impression, retailers can build stronger relationships with their customers, create an emotional connection and build lasting loyalty.
While this is still very much the case, the pandemic threw a curve ball into the mix. All of a sudden convenience and choice became key. The pendulum swung back towards delivering the best possible transactional experience – fuelled in part by booming ecomm sales.
Customer behavior evolves all the time and, what’s clear, is shoppers now want the best of both worlds. They want great shopping experiences combined with absolute convenience and choice. In fact, two thirds of shoppers say customer experience is more important than price during a purchase while the same number say they prefer being able to check out anywhere in the store (Source: Zebra).
The best retailers give their shoppers the best possible experience alongside convenience and choice. The good news is it’s easy to give your customers what they want; you just need to have the right mindset.
This means having a modern mindset towards software that puts you in the driving seat. With this mindset, you’re in full control of the software you use and how it pieces together. One way to do this is by having a loosely coupled (also referred to as decoupled) system landscape, which allows you to innovate and experiment with different systems, solutions, flows, and processes to find what works best for your business. By having this control and flexibility, you can tailor your software to meet the specific needs of your business, rather than being constrained by a rigid system that may not work for you. This can lead to greater efficiency, productivity, and profitability in your retail operations.
With a best-of-breed approach, you aren’t beholden to the whims of legacy systems. The power is in your hands. And this means it’s far easier for you to control your costs, boost your revenue or, in the best case, do both at the same time.
Let’s dig a little deeper and see how the right software and mindset can help you change the game…
How does software transform the in-store experience and give shoppers convenience?
Let’s be honest here…unless it’s purely transactional, physical retail without any kind of experience is pretty boring. When it’s so easy to buy everything online, your physical stores need something that sets them apart, makes them last long in the memory and, crucially, something that gives your customers a reason to visit and spend time in them.
If you have a point of difference you’re going to stand out from the crowd and you’re going to be laying the perfect groundwork to build lasting emotional connections with your shoppers. Take premium Norwegian outdoor fashion brand, Norrøna, as an example. They use their stores to host events and hold talks from inspirational adventurers from across the globe. Not only is it a great way to get people to visit their stores, it’s also the perfect way to showcase their products.
Alongside this, you need to have passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic store associates who genuinely care about your customers and buy-in to your vision and purpose.
And it’s here where the software and IT architecture can really help you shine.
1. Assisted selling made simple
Here’s an example of how a sale can easily be lost if your store associates don’t have the right tools.
Let’s say a customer walks into your store and thinks they know what they want but they need some guidance and they have questions to ask.
They look hopefully towards your store associate to help. They want to help but, without the right tools and information at their fingertips, they know they can’t provide a great customer experience.
Your store associate is scared the customer knows more than they do. Your customer leaves without buying anything, your store associate is miserable and deflated, and you’ve just lost a sale and a loyal customer.
But what if the store associate had a mobile device where they could access all this information so it became a Point of Service as well as a Point of Sale?
With a mobile POS your store associates can serve your customers anywhere in the store. They can take payments and orders, help customers find what they are looking for, and deliver top-class service.
In short, when assisted selling is powered by a Unified CommercePlatform and made simple through your mobile POS, everyone goes home happy. It’s the perfect way to stand out from your competition, build customer loyalty to generate long-term sales and make sure your customers feel time spent in your store is time well spent.
2. Online returns in store
Having the technology in place so you can accept online returns in-store is an absolute must. As far as your customers are concerned there’s no difference between your sales channels and if they can’t return a product they bought online to one of your stores it’s going to leave a bad taste in the mouth. But the benefits don’t stop there. 62% of shoppers are more likely to buy online if they can return a product to a store, 80% of customers that do return a product to a store end up spending the refund in the store, and omnichannel customers are 83% more profitable than single channel customers. To enable online returns, your POS must be able to talk to and integrate with your ecomm platform.
3. Scale up to meet increased demand
It’s economics 101; when demand soars, supply has to rise to meet demand because, if it doesn’t, resources will become scarce. At the times of peak demand, it makes perfect business sense to increase POS numbers in-store to avoid long lines and frustrated customers.
Imagine what this looks like if you have legacy software and hardware. You need to find another computer, an extra monitor, scanners, printers…the list goes on. This kind of setup looks archaic and takes up so much space in your store. It’s completely impractical.
If, on the flip side, your POS is mobile-first, can work on any mobile device or tablet, and easily interacts with other in-store devices, scaling up to meet increased demand is as easy as pie.
You can easily connect your extra POS devices to your existing payment terminals and receipt printers that you use during times of normal demand. Equally, at quieter times of the year, scaling back is hassle free. You can find out more about the benefits of hardware flexibility in our free guide.
4. Boost your omnichannel sales and fulfillment capabilities
In terms of fulfillment, when all your sales channels are connected, you can meet your customers’ needs in a cost efficient way. It amplifies your sales and fulfillment possibilities with Click-and-Collect (BOPIS), Click-and-Reserve (ROBIS), Endless Aisle and buy, reserve and pickup in other stores.
It also helps you turn your stores into fulfillment centers, meaning ecomm orders can be shipped from your stores and that stores can ship orders placed in other stores. All your stores should be able to be used as fulfillment centers. Not only does turning your stores into micro-fulfillment centers make you more efficient and result in a better service for customers, it’s also more sustainable as it cuts down on shipping from centralized distribution centers.
In order to integrate the solutions of different providers with a mobile POS system, all the providers need to offer an API that enables communication between the systems. This allows for real-time data transfers, allowing store staff and HQ personnel to benefit from additional solutions without having to switch between screens or applications. However, to ensure proper functionality, all providers involved need to have an “API-first” mindset. This means that the providers prioritize the development of their API, which allows for easy integration with other systems. This is important for ensuring seamless communication between systems and for achieving a fully integrated retail operation.
Such a seamless integration process would facilitate the ability to view stock levels across all sales channels and enable faster and more accurate replenishment cycles throughout the entire retail organization.
What do shoppers say?
58% of consumers say flexible blended shipping options like BOPIS are important to them.
77% of global shoppers will prioritize brick-and-mortar shopping over e-commerce given a pleasant in-store atmosphere.
57% of global shoppers want to be educated on information about environmental qualities and characteristics of goods being sold.
61% of consumers would be more loyal to a brand who lets them buy things online and return in store.
49% of shoppers left a store without the item they wanted because it was out of stock.
The biggest takeaway here is to not stand still and get stuck in the middle. Failing to prepare for what shoppers want (and what the next generation of shoppers want) is preparing to fail.
If you carry on doing things the way you always have done then it will be death by a thousand cuts. If you can’t give shoppers convenience, choice and a great experience then you’re going to get left behind by the new kids on the block who can.
The best way forward is to embrace a flexible, best-of-breed way of thinking to create systems and processes that are easy to integrate with each other, work for you and deliver on your customer promise.This kind of ‘composable’ approach – built on simplicity, adaptability and open innovation means you can quickly adapt to customer needs and market dynamics.
The MACH Mindset
The MACH Alliance is a not-for-profit industry body that advocates open and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems. Think of MACH as a stamp of quality. Software vendors who are part of the MACH Alliance are the pioneer leading the way into retail’s new frontier.
MACH stands for:
Microservices – you can pick the pieces of the puzzle that you think will benefit your specific target groups
API-first – With API-first it’s way easier to make sure your different sales channels and systems talk to each other making sure you have the same product information and customer information everywhere.
Cloud-native SaaS – With a cloud-native SaaS solution you get continuous updates to make sure your store associates always have the latest technology in their hands.
Headless – With a headless solution you can combine mobile and stationary Android and iOS devices and they all talk to each other. Even your self-checkout is part of the same solution, just presented in a different way.
Look for the MACH seal of approval when choosing the right software for your business and you can be assured you’re investing in the very best the industry has to offer.
Besides making your business more agile and adaptable, a composable approach also most often leads to reduced overall costs.
Software solutions are the building blocks you use to create omnichannel-flows and achieve great omnichannel retail. A traditional mindset would rely on one system to control and deliver on everything. However legacy systems are quickly becoming obsolete.
With a new mindset and approach to retail software, you can create your own retail ecosystem to create the kind of omnichannel retail experience you know your customers want.
This means that you must find best-of-breed solutions you can use to create the best setup for your business; POS, ERP, Ecom, PIM, Payments and so on. All of these blocks are built with modern, cloud-native technology, are API first and easy to integrate to fit with the others – and without them, achieving great omnichannel retail and moving ever closer towards true unified commerce with integrated front and backend data in real time is virtually impossible.
Take your POS software to the next level