Customer Experience through an Agile Retail Technology Platform

Troy Muise | Co - Founder & CEO | Salesboom - Insights Success

It’s simple. We all know that Customer Experience is improved by managing the relationship through the entire customer lifecycle, while ensuring we keep employees and customers on the same page at all times.

To improve this Customer Experience you must get good at closed-loop marketing. This stem of marketing continually measures the good and bad about each campaign, as well as tracks the relationship with the customer from Marketing, Sales, Support and eCommerce. This stem is agile enough to change course as needed, update processes, and retrain employees and customers seamlessly.

The center of Agile Retail Technology has now become the CRM system (Customer Relationship Management). Improving the customer experience is part of the CRM system, as it contains the master profile record of the Customer during all stages of the buying relationship.  Not just the purchasing stage, but lead management and nurturing, sales opportunity management, and post-sale stages are easily accessed. This will develop a rich customer profile that can be used to segment existing Contacts and Accounts, as well drive Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Account-Based Sales activities.

Retailers today must be ready to communicate with customers online, at any time, and self-service through their communication channel of choice – Website, Chat, Email, Phone, Online form submission, Text, Social, and onward. CRM systems manage the communications and relationships and keep interactions from all channels in one place, attached to the Customer profile.

Forward-thinking Retailers are improving their customer experience by making their organizations more agile, and able to react instantaneously to change. This is achieved by evolving into a digital organization. Digital transformation is achieved by adopting a Cloud-first strategy to outsource the heavy lifting, and innovation of the software to the Cloud CRM vendor, leaving you to focus on the customer experience and perfecting that.

Retail Technology platforms integrated with the CRM core include Point of Sale (POS) joined with a Cloud CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) and also a cohesive backend ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) so that you can see all the interactions with customers during the entire Customer Lifecycle. Various other apps may be integrated with this ecosystem as well including email, phone, text, and others.

Reports on customers from pre-sales, through Sales and closing, eCommerce, and onward through support, re-ups, cross-sells, upsells, renewals, return engagements by the customer help bring insight into what is working and what is faltering. This allows one to quickly react and change course, and retrain all internal and external customers, from leads to customers, employees and shareholders, as well as partners and other stakeholders.

Being Agile in retail can be the difference between survival and failure for many retail organizations.

A Cloud-First Strategy is the way to success and the key to being agile in this evolving marketplace.

The future of retail is to be more agile and responsive with their existing customer processes, to reduce friction in buying and to keep all stakeholders “on the same page” in terms of what the Marketing, Sales, Support, and Commerce departments are thinking.

Being “on the same page” is the landing page where the lead or customer, as well as the employee or partner can go to read about the process for communicating with the company. Here they can fill out the online form, get an immediate response, letting them know their request has been submitted and an employee notified. In real time, an employee is alerted of the request which is then documented into the CRM as an item for follow-up.

Big Data is a new and huge trend among retailers in hopes of analyzing all the various purchases and social interactions. This helps map out new opportunities and keep profiles enriched with the most intelligent and up-to-date information on your customer. This leads to keeping loyalty programs performing and customers returning for more from your business.

Retail organizations are all watching what the 600 pound gorilla in the room, Amazon.com, is doing while also trying to maximize revenues from each of the retail locations.

Amazon is releasing an automated store named AmazonGo, requiring no checkout employees, where RFID tags are placed on each product. Buyers enter the store, pull products on and off the shelf, and check out automatically by passing through and electronic gate, much like a metal detector scanner.

The customer’s card is billed automatically and if there is not enough funds, an alarm goes off. No employees needed, other than one employee at the front watching and answering questions, restocking shelves, etc. No need for a checkout. This may seem like a final assault by Amazon on retailers, but in reality Amazon’s only retail competitor is Walmart. One could easily see Amazon leasing their technologies to bring “brick and mortar” Retail new life by not only reducing expenses by reducing staff, but also by tagging your inventory with Amazon tags. This means you instantly can sell them in your store and on Amazon’s e-store simultaneously, with the same infrastructure and the same software. This is the ‘offer you can’t refuse’ that Amazon may be putting forth to all retailers, in a bid to take over all physical locations, while already dominating the online retail space, and letting Walmart try and deal with this.

One interesting and brand new way of monetizing space is by combining servers that run CRM and backoffice software systems, but also come with Bitcoin Miners that mine Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies. The overhead in a business including leasing the space, heating it, electricity, employees, insurance, etc need to be paid whether you are having a slow night or not, so why not be mining Bitcoin on-site to help pay the bills? The jury is out on whether this is a great solution for all retail organizations, and there are many risks to educate yourself on about Cryptocurrencies, however the idea of mining currency as an alternate income strategy to boost location performance is another tool in the arsenal to keep in mind.