Four Things Australian Retailers Want This Christmas

It’s that make or break time of year for Australian retailers as the peak Christmas and New Year shopping season arrives, bringing the greatest amount of traffic to stores and websites.

Savvy retailers, seeking to capitalise on this, have been hard at work all year preparing to address the needs of the 2015 Christmas shopper.

Australian retailers are seeking new ways to improve the customer experience, both online and in-store. Many retailers we’ve spoken with recently agree that personalisation is their top priority for enhancing the customer experience this festive season.

Retailers pushing to satisfy increasingly connected and empowered customers across multiple shopping channels are the ones that tend to achieve most success over the busy season. Customers expect a consistent and relevant brand experience at each touch point. Without offering a unifying experience, retailers risk customers jumping to the competition.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the four key things that Australian retailers have told us are on their wish list for this upcoming festive season.

1) 360-degree view of the customer

A firm understanding of customer behaviours and preferences provide retailers with a wealth of options for expanding their business and improving the bottom line. The fundamental requirement for any customer-focused commerce initiative is a clear, 360-degree view of each customer.

By tightly integrating point-of-sale, customer relationship management, inventory, order and warehouse management systems together, Australian retailers will be able to deliver personalised service, build customer loyalty and provide a relevant and engaging shopping experience with their brand. By pursuing this omnichannel strategy, retailers will have a clear view of a customer’s purchase history and whether they interacted with the retailer’s brand online, at a brick-and-mortar store location or with a sales representative.

This insight enables retailers to then provide personalised marketing to their customers based on purchase history or demographics. They can also offer customers self-service options to view their online purchase history, reorder and find answers to their questions 24/7.

2) Cross-channel consistency

Some retailers are wishing to deliver more consistency across their channels to bridge the gap and satisfy today’s consumers, from branded product information, through to efficient order management and a relevant and personalised shopping experience.

One retailer we spoke to commented: “We’ve got 60 stores and showrooms, as well as a great website. Our aim is to have one simple message across all our channels and to tell new customers about our products. We are trying to reduce the operational effort required to run our business, while providing consistency for our customers across all of our channels.”

3) Improving the mobile experience

Retailers are increasingly realising the importance of a great mobile experience. The rapid growth in smartphone ownership and usage is revolutionising the way that Australian consumers shop. The ability to access the internet while on the move has transformed many aspects of consumer behaviour, with many shoppers now using smartphones to research, compare, share, purchase and pay for merchandise.

To address this demand, retailers are investing in better mobile experiences, including making checkout easier, optimising emails for smartphones and providing more product reviews.

4) Improved online/in-store integration

Improving the customer experience isn’t a separate online or an in-store decision. Many retailers confront significant challenges integrating the systems they use in their brick-and-mortar stores with their e-commerce sites, and the modern consumer simply can’t fathom that they haven’t figured this out by now.

In fact, a study conducted by Retail Systems Research found that the majority of retailers surveyed feel their existing technology infrastructure is preventing them from upgrading to new omnichannel solutions. They also face significant challenges getting new technologies rolled out to stores, and with helping employees respond to informed, mobile-enabled shoppers.

Many retailers remain trapped trying to stitch together disparate systems. Unfortunately, this doesn’t solve the underlying problem, as the systems never truly communicate with each other in real-time or with the consistency needed to execute a true omnichannel experience.

We live in a customer-centric world and if Australian retailers fail to develop their value proposition, someone with a better proposition will sneak in the back door and take over the room. The future has always belonged to those leading retailers that could best anticipate and meet the needs of customers, not only during the festive season, but at any time of year.

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