According to Fortune Magazine, about 10 million more Americans shopped online than in stores over Black Friday Weekend.
The trend of ecommerce eclipsing brick-and-mortar sales has just started. It’s not just techies and millennials shopping on the internet; Grandma and Grandpa have finally discovered the convenience of computer life. Soon, society will balance the scale for a more 50/50 split between online and in-store retail.
Now, more than ever, to remain competitive, companies need to unify their in-store and online experiences.
The personalization platform
Customers no longer have a linear shopping pattern. Before they make a purchase, they sample products through multiple channels. They may try a product in-store and then search Amazon for the lowest price. Or they may browse a specific retailer’s webpage for items and then make their purchases at the local store to avoid shipping costs and delays.
The “customer journey” is erratic and multi-tiered. Whether a customer chooses to shop online or in-store is a coin toss. Yet, each customer requires a consistently unique experience.
To deliver this experience, companies need to know customers’ both in-store and online likes, dislikes, purchase history, company interaction history, etc., in a unified dashboard. One brand, one customer and one relationship.
A recent study commissioned by MyBuys and conducted by the e-tailing group, The Seventh Annual Personalization Consumer Survey, highlights the growing demand for personalized shopping. Here are a few significant stats:
• 3 out of 4 shoppers are willing to allow retailers to use store purchase data for personalization purposes
• 1-in-3 shoppers express frustration when retailers don’t factor in purchase behavior
• 53% of consumers said it’s important that retailers recognize them as the same person across all channels and devices they use to shop.
• 50% of shoppers want their personal information used to coordinate a better overall shopping experience. Similarly, 49% of shoppers want retailers to take into account their in-store purchases when marketing to them afterwards.
A customer relationship management platform (CRM) is the glue needed to stick ecommerce information with in-store interactions. This way online and in person agents can address companies on a personal level.
In store logging
Stores today – at least those keeping pace with the times – are hybrid departments that are equal parts warehouse and internet.
Did you notice when large retailers started asking for your email and phone number? Today it is standard practice. Rewards cards, mobile applications and promotional enrollments link in-store customers with their online presence. If a customer in-store provides an email address and/or phone number, and later makes a purchase online with the same information, retailers can track the customer on both mediums.
The registers aren’t just registers anymore. They catalog shoppers’ interests and forward that information into the CRM. The living record of online and offline purchases help stores better market products more suited for individuals. No more generic spam mail. And salespersons can guide customers to selections based on their perceived style and interests, rather than defaulting to a generic pitch.
But there is still a disconnect that threatens the company/customer relationship.
Making the right call
Whether you are on the sales, service or marketing side of the business, customer intel is important. A CRM that tracks and logs customer purchases in-store and online can serve multiple departments, but only if all departments can work efficiently in the system.
Ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, Wix, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, Jimdo can give customers a great online experience, and if linked to the in-store CRM instance, businesses can thrive. But what happens when a person calls? Do they still get that same, custom, personalized experience?
If the store has not made their phone system an integrated part of the CRM network, customers still get the “take a number” treatment.
However, if the phone is linked in the CRM via a computer telephony integration (CTI), sales and service calls become much more customizable. Here are just a few ways the phone can work with the CRM for a better experience:
Retailers can construct a call system that data dips into the CRM to recognize return customers and intelligently route them to appropriate support. The system can route customers to sales and service agents who have helped them in the past and who have an intimate understanding of the customer’s preferences.
If a customer is returning a call to a sales rep, they won’t need to hunt through a dial directory. If they accidently disconnect from a service call, they can route back to the agent who was originally assigned their case.
Shopper efficiency is the name of the game. Online or instore, agents want to move their customers through the sales or service funnel as quickly as possible. On the phone, the process is at least three tiers: identify why the person is calling, access supporting materials regarding their account, resolve the call.
CTI can go as far as recognizing VIP customers and giving them priority in a sales or service queue. It can screen pop customer information to agents so that they don’t need to manually query a system. It can also pull past customer interactions so that agents can provide more prescriptive solutions.