Retailers operate in a digital-first marketplace and that means not just using technology but being alert to the fast-changing buying patterns of digital consumers and organisations.
Here Mark Bennigsen, Service Delivery Director at Columbus UK, identifies the four technologies that will enable ‘digitally mature’ retailers to not only cope with accelerated changes in the industry but future-proof their business in this digital ecosystem. He warns that those failing to adapt risk joining the growing list of established brands that have fallen by the wayside.
Let me define ‘digitally mature’ retailers. They have a solid commerce platform that enables new and existing customers to easily find products on the device of their choice – and ensures that promises regarding delivery, pricing and availability can be consistently met. But the advantages of this type of platform are huge for business intelligence. It allows a business to collect insightful customer data, process it faster and adapt to meet evolving customer demands. Here are the four technologies that are essential for retailers to plot their commerce journey and stay ahead of the digital curve going into the next decade.
Product Information Management (PIM)
An effective PIM system has the potential to save businesses time, money and energy. PIM enables businesses to collect all information and material used for marketing in a single location and keep customers’ needs top of mind at all times. A PIM system makes a retailer think from the perspective of the customer – considering the type of information customers need during their purchasing journey. This type of solution can then be used to not just gather the data but use it to enrich product information to create and deliver a compelling product experience.
PIM implementations support multiple content types spanning textual materials, product images, videos and more. With the right information in the right place, businesses can improve their product content and category managers can ensure that accurate, timely and high-quality product data is available across all sales channels.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
It is essential to create personalised web content that reinforces and improves brand messaging and engagement. An advanced CMS does just this by allowing an organisation to quickly manage and update web content to best align its brand to match buying behaviours.
The journey towards complete personalisation starts with attracting customers via increased SEO efficiency and engaging them through effective seasonal and trending content curation. This converts to increased customer relevancy and personalisation – analytics being a key factor in optimising the journey – which leads onto the creation of content-rich emails that target specific customers.
In this way CMS helps retailers work more intelligently – delivering a comprehensive customer journey and experience from landing pages through to payment and checkout, while also enhancing product and catalogue management.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
According to Gartner, 81% of purchases will be based on customer experience by 2020, so ensuring that experience is right is essential to future success in the digital marketplace. Modern CRM systems enable retailers to effectively engage with customers throughout their entire lifecycle – from marketing and sales to customer service and advocacy. An effective CRM solution supports the automation of manual tasks, but more importantly it allows businesses to better understand their customer base and provides the opportunity to engage with them.
As the market evolves and new technologies continue to be embraced, businesses must assess how they are interweaving digital tools with sales, marketing and customer service, and a CRM solution will be a key component for any retailer on their commerce journey.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Retailers can use AI to help them digitally transform and provide their customers with the best experience possible. AI is key to creating a highly personalised customer journey by using customer history to predict future needs and purchases. Powerful, connected algorithms lead to intelligent content suggestions, product recommendations and customer profiling which all help to accelerate business growth. These algorithms can ensure customers are provided with relevant content, while business dashboards can be used to monitor and direct algorithms to ensure their effectiveness. In this way AI can also provide an intelligent solution to basket abandonment as well as a personal touch when it comes to chatbot interactions.
The way consumers interact with brands is changing as the retail market keenly adopts emerging technologies, and businesses must take advantage of AI to drive product innovation and enhance their processes to advance in this digital world.
Sink or swim in today’s digital marketplace
Operating a commerce platform made up of these four technologies will help businesses secure their futures in today’s digital marketplace. Businesses must redefine their market proposition and harness valuable insights generated from emerging technologies to shape their future brand messaging. Those who can adapt their operations to meet ever-changing customer demands and market trends will benefit from increased sales from existing customers, and consistently attract new customers to grow their customer base.
About the Author
Mark Bennigsen is Service Delivery Director at Columbus UK. Columbus is a global IT services and consulting corporation with more than 2,000 employees serving our customers worldwide. We bring digital transformation into your business and position you to thrive far into the future.
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