Whilst the latest economic data and retail peak trading updates provide some optimism, the economic climate is tough and outlook changeable. It's clear significant challenges remain. Yet many retailers and brands are defying expectations and thriving; growing the customer base, increasing market share, improving bottom-line revenue and margin, creating more sustainable business models and delivering against customer expectations.
So, what’s the secret to their success? In this blog, written in conjunction with Retail Assist, we explore why the path to success lies in an integrated tech and data strategy.
Omnichannel commerce means being integrated everywhere
It appears multichannel retailers performed better overall this peak season, with some even upgrading their outlook; clearly benefitting from both digital services and physical stores, as shoppers returned to the high street.
However, what really caught our attention was The Very Group’s January trading update. Not just for its strong trading performance, but because it said it processed its fastest online order ever at its highly automated fulfilment centre….in 10 minutes 30 seconds. An improvement of 34% - that's quite something!
And yet this astonishing result didn’t make headlines. Is it because The Very Group is a digital retail brand with a long history of servicing customers and so wasn’t considered news? Surely not.
Over the years, we’ve worked with hundreds of retailers and brands, and this must be amongst the best for current and aspirational capabilities! This figure broke their previous record of 16 minutes, taking out a massive 5 minutes and 30 seconds. When you stop to think what it means for their tech and data capabilities, operating efficiencies, stock allocation, customer service and delivery experience, it can only be described as game-changing!
The Very Group has a clear strategy to offer convenience, flexibility and value customers need and is investing significantly in its technology, with a laser focus on making the customer experience as good as it can be.
And therein lies the key to success. Businesses (whether multichannel or pureplay) with a clear strategy that prioritises the tech and data capabilities needed to achieve digitalisation objectives are winning. Think of any retailer and brand that has a track record of performing well and improving the customer experience through digital innovation. They’re likely to be:
optimising the online customer experience across devices through a consistent brand experience, product information and frictionless checkout
offering a variety of services from payment options, click and collect, enhanced delivery services and ship from store capabilities through to automated returns
utilising technologies in-store to provide superior, experiential experiences (including clienteling, geo-location targeting, self-checkouts, scan and shop)
adopting AI and augmented reality (virtual try-ons, sizing guides, virtual chat assistants, digital influencers, product visualisations)
increasing brand collaborations and marketplace offerings, including rental and pre-loved
engaging customers through loyalty programmes and personalised content (and providing compelling reasons for visiting their stores).
Doing all this well requires seamlessly integrating technology and data across all channels and touchpoints, including third-party systems. Being able to connect systems and automate processes, unlock data to feed applications across the entire business and make better-informed data driven decisions in real-time is the key to optimising performance. Plus, the workforce needs the right tools and capabilities to deliver, and support change and digital innovation.
Omnichannel is a spaghetti of technology and data that needs to be integrated
Whether pureplay or multichannel, retailers and brands want to:
be where their customers are,
know their customer across all their channels, and
deliver against expectations.
Digital acceleration has resulted in an ever-expanding tech ecosystem: a complex spaghetti of technology, applications and data that can be time-consuming and costly to manage and scale, if not integrated well.
As a result, many businesses struggle to connect systems, automate processes, unify data and access a single source of truth.
Equally, managing multiple and legacy systems, conflicting priorities, finite budgets and ever-increasing systems and data requirements is challenging.
And yet every second counts: delays in connecting systems, application performance and data freshness impact the customer experience and operating performance.
But there is good news! Modern and flexible cloud-based technology, applications and data architectures are making it easier to integrate systems and data and deliver transformational change faster and more easily. Even with all the challenges associated with legacy systems.
Getting the most value out of your data and tech integrations requires careful thought. Being clear on your overall business strategy and strategic priorities helps to define your technology and data architecture strategy. And building an architecture that places systems and data integration requirements at its core will enable new digital services and capabilities to be added more easily and future-proof your business.
What’s the return? Put simply, it's optimal performance. Who doesn’t want to sell more at a higher margin and minimise returns? Fulfil orders and deliveries more efficiently and optimise allocation and demand? Make better data driven decisions, and increase operational efficiencies? And achieve all this whilst offering greater flexibility, choice and convenience to the customer.
Get it right and see those seconds count!
About Retail Assist & Datitude
Retail Assist is a leading provider of managed IT Services and retail technology software solutions. Merret Pro is our award-winning omnichannel supply chain solution, designed and developed for the demands of modern retail. It is a complete, end-to-end software solution, with a central stock pool and a single view of stock; allowing retailers to improve full-price sales performance, increase profits, and provide consistently excellent shopping experiences. Retail Assist’s technical services enable you to focus on running your business while leaving the management of your tech to the pros. Find out more here.
Datitude transforms how businesses connect, integrate and unify their data. Whilst we made our name in omnichannel working with many retailers and brands over many years, as data experts we provide managed data platforms and solutions to a diverse range of businesses who need better access to their data and valuable intelligence and actionable insight they can trust. Solutions for retailers and brands include systems integration, retail & customer data platform and direct mail optimisation and analysis. Make your data work for you without having to master the underlying technology.