Personalized digital services depend on data integration
Enabling an excellent e-commerce customer experience (CX) is a top priority for many companies. This is especially important as sales are becoming increasingly digital. Online shopping sales hit a record $108.2 billion this holiday season, a 14.7 percent increase from last year, according to Adobe Analytics.
Since consumers have endless opportunities to shop online, they have the luxury to be extremely demanding. If a page takes too long to load, or if they can’t see if their item is available in a local store, they can simply abandon their shopping cart, resulting in lost sales.
The following tips will help transform your website visitors into loyal customers.
Self-service – Today customers want to find information about their orders themselves without calling a call center. In Forrester’s “2017 Customer Service Trends: Operations Become Smarter and More Strategic” report, Kate Leggett predicts that companies will be extending and enhancing self-service. For customers to receive reliable information about product availability, discounts, and delivery options, online retailers need to combine data from several systems including ERP, CRM, warehouse management and distribution systems and update data in real time.
If an order includes several different items, customers will also want to know the status of each one. For example, a modular home company enables customers to see the status of each component, such as doors, windows and walls, with an additional calculation that includes an estimate of when the entire home will be ready to be assembled. To make this amount of information available at your customers’ fingertips you need to have integrations with different in-house ERP systems as well as the databases of several partners and suppliers.
Omni-channel purchases – Customers want to shop online but often they also want to visit the store to see the products for themselves. If the product they saw online was not in the store—or if it looks different from what they saw on the website—online retailers can lose the sale. Making sure that the website includes information about in-store product availability requires access to databases for different store locations.
Customers also want the flexibility to choose to pick up a purchase in person, or to wait for delivery to their home or office. Many companies today also have distribution centers in grocery stores, or other drop-off points in addition to their physical store locations. Data needs to be collected from different inventory and warehouse management systems to give consumers the power to choose how they will receive their purchase.
Personalized services – Customers also want the convenience of customer-specific catalogs and pricing. This service can go beyond product recommendations to tailored visual merchandising and in-store screen displays around customers’ previous activity and location. In addition, many retailers create personalized shopping experiences based on a customer’s online and in-store interactions as well as comments using social media and with call center agents. By integrating a marketing system into your other systems, you can provide each customer with tailored offerings based on previous purchases, returns and reviews.
Better performance – A quick loading time of your website is vital, even when it requires collecting data from various databases internally and externally. If a page takes too long to load, a user can end a browsing session and shop elsewhere. It’s highly advisable to optimize images and compress your website, and make sure you have a data infrastructure that can scale up quickly as the order volume grows and also accommodate bursts of holiday traffic.
Mobile shoppers – In 2016, top retailers in the US grew mobile sales by 30 percent year-over-year, capturing 52 percent of all e-commerce transactions. Today, consumers often begin their hunt for a new product by researching on their mobile devices. Smartphones have become the main touchpoint with businesses and for some retailers, mobile is already a huge factor. At designer-fashion retailer Gilt, for instance, mobile activity accounts for about 50 percent of daily traffic and more than 30 percent of total sales. This illustrates that it is imperative that the entire e-commerce shopping experience be mobile friendly. In addition, social media on mobile devices has become a popular method of engaging with brands and sharing information about store locations, and product availability.
A recent SAS survey found that companies have made progress in linking back-end processes with front-end services or interfaces, however data from these processes is not integrated well or delivered in real time. One problem is that custom integrations can cost a large investment upfront and require several full-time IT employees to ensure they run correctly. Integration platforms can significantly lower the cost of these connections providing a better return on investment for development costs.
A data-driven customer journey can only be accomplished by collecting and presenting reliable data to web visitors. Seamless data integration can be the key to providing shoppers with quick access to the information they need to become loyal customers.