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LS Retail | 13 August 2019

Create tomorrow’s customer experience with unified commerce technology

Create tomorrow’s customer experience with unified commerce technology

In New York, mattress brand Casper is giving its customers a fun and practical way to try out its products.

Book in for a nap at The Dreamery, and you’ll get access to a personal sleep pod complete with a clean sheeted bed (outfitted with a Casper mattress, of course), pajamas, sleep goodies, including a sleep mask, face wash and a toothbrush, and coffee for when you wake up.

Each nap slot costs $25 and lasts 45 minutes, just long enough to recharge. The price tag may seem expensive for something you can do at home for free, but Casper hopes that its concept will help people prioritize sleep in the same way they would do a workout. And you get to try out their mattresses before committing to a purchase. Conveniently, Casper has a store located next door.

It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s not. It’s an example of how retailers today are finding new ways to engage with their customers and grow brand awareness.

The rise of experiential retail

The way customers shop is changing. That’s because shopping is no longer the same thing as buying. It is a social activity, “an activity of sensation, discovery, camaraderie – while buying remains the act of simply acquiring something,” as recently defined by Forbes.

Retailers like Casper recognize this, and they are developing new formats and technologies to tap into consumers’ desire for experiences. In its survey Pivot to Person-First Personalization, Forrester reported that more than two-thirds of businesses see delivering tailored customer experiences as a top priority. That’s because “CX (customer experience) leaders grow revenue faster than CX laggards,” Forrester’s report The CX Transformation Imperative observed.

Why a joined-up online and offline strategy is key

The ones doing it best are able to offer their customers an entirely joined up experience, one which seamlessly merges all their physical and digital channels, something also known as unified commerce.

Innovative concepts such as Alibaba’s ‘New Retail’ approach demonstrate the power of unified commerce. For example, the Chinese e-commerce company’s “FashionAI” store uses artificial intelligence to track consumer activity. As they enter, customers scan their smartphone to link their shopping experience with their online Alibaba account. Smart mirrors display product information on nearby screens when they touch or pick up a garment, and offer mix-and-match recommendations. Back home, the Virtual Wardrobe feature in the Alibaba app allows customers to buy anything online which they tried on in-store.

“The boundary between offline and online commerce disappears as we focus on fulfilling the personalized needs of each customer,” Alibaba’s executive chairman Jack Ma wrote in a letter to shareholders.

Amazon is also exploring the power of blending the best of the online and offline worlds. Its Amazon Go convenience stores, currently being tested in the US, tap into consumer desire for speed and ease. Shoppers pick up snacks, groceries and toiletries, and simply walk out with them. Behind the scenes, a bank of cameras and sensors track their activity as they browse and pick up items, and when they leave, their total bill is calculated and charged to their Amazon account.

And in Nike’s concept store in Los Angeles, US, the sports brand uses data from the surrounding user community to tailor in-store omni-channel experiences to their needs. Customers use the Nike app to reserve products for pick up at smart lockers, scan product barcodes to learn more about specific items and earn rewards. They can text store associates to organize product returns. Inside, there is a sneaker bar, customers can attend style consultations and try out products on treadmills. Stock rotates every two weeks to keep things fresh.

Making unified commerce a reality

To make unified commerce a reality in your own organization, you need to be able to run your retail entire operation from a single platform which connects all the dots within your business.

It’s a step on from omni-channel because it does away with any internal siloes. While omni-channel focuses on creating a consistent customer experience across all sales channels, behind the scenes each channel is likely operating as a standalone system. Unified commerce, on the other hand, is enabled by one centralized, real-time platform for all customer engagement points. It offers a single version of the truth, all the time.

Here is what a unified commerce platform should help you to achieve:

A complete view of the entire customer journey

Track shoppers across all of your channels, and have the ability to know who they are and what they want. Let them engage with you at any point, and pick back up from where they left off, regardless of channel. Give them an entirely seamless, personalized shopping experience, and close the sale at the very moment the shopper decides to purchase.

Anticipate purchases and reward loyal shoppers

By having a complete view of the customer shopping journey, you should be able to anticipate what your customers want to buy and what they may want next, and give them meaningful product suggestions which encourage them to make a purchase while boosting average order value. Use customer insights to develop your marketing strategies, and send targeted promotions which reward customers for their loyalty. By tracking shopping behaviors, you can also ensure you have the right stock available.

Reliable, consistent data

Gain a single source of truth by centralizing all your data in a single platform. Using one system also means no data duplication required, nor manual processes. You will empower your workers by decreasing their routine, manual tasks, while also providing them with completely accurate and up-to-date information to work with. With a unified commerce platform you can have confidence that your customer service and operations teams can operate effectively, because you know that they have the customer insights they need, that your financial data is reliable, and that your sales and stock information is completely up to date.

Create and deploy new services and experiences, quickly

A unified commerce architecture gives you the flexibility to share data and functionality across all of your customer experience areas. Build new services, channels, apps and experiences directly on the platform with speed and ease, knowing that they fully integrate with your existing presence. Avoid high costs and lengthy development cycles as there is no need for complex integrations.

How we can help

Many retailers we speak with want to make unified commerce a reality in their own organizations, but they don’t know where to start. Thankfully, we have the solution you need.

Our unified commerce platform LS Central provides all of the functionality you need to operate your entire retail business from one place, with no need for additional systems or costly customizations.

We will help you to break down the siloes across your business and gain a complete view of your operation and your customers, giving you the ability to track sales, stock and productivity in real time across all of your sales channels.

Please contact us to see a demo of our platform in action and find out more.

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