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The smartest retailers are moving beyond physical and beyond digital – they’re moving to unified retail. They’re bringing together what shoppers love the most about online and in-store shopping, delivering a seamless blend of the two, and realising new efficiencies along the way.

Unified retail is the next logical step in commerce – and it’s helping retailers deliver powerful customer experiences like never before. By coupling in-store and e-commerce channels, and sharing information seamlessly between the two, retailers can:

  • Realise massive operational efficiencies.

  • Get even closer to their customers.

  • Capitalise on existing physical assets.

  • Differentiate themselves in a crowded market.
     

Unified retail: The perfect scenario

 

To paint a picture of unified retail in action, let’s follow Sarah’s customer journey at her local car dealer, Lux Motors.

  • Sarah’s in the market for a new car. She’s heard great things about Lux Motors, and their reputation for great customer service seals the deal. She makes her purchase.

  • While finalising the sale, the dealer captures Sarah’s email address. A customer profile is automatically created and immediately visible to Lux Motor’s marketing, e-commerce and customer service teams.

  • Using data from the sale, Lux Motors sends Sarah a personalised email recommending products and services to go with her new car. This prompts Sarah to browse the website, where the company records her apparent interest in annual servicing.

  • The following day, Lux Motors’ in-store beacons pick up Sarah walking by. Based on her browsing data, an offer is pinged to her phone – a 25% off voucher for their premium annual service plan. Sarah, delighted by the relevant offer, makes a spontaneous trip into the dealer to discuss the service plan.

  • Though happy with her deal, Sarah realises that the promised documentation has yet to come through. She tweets her disappointment at the holdup, which Lux Motors’ social listening tool uses to create an automatic customer service case.

  • Armed with Sarah’s purchase history and details, Lux Motors’ customer service team resolves the issue before the day is over, and dispatches a voucher for their online store as compensation. Sarah tweets again, only this time it’s to express delight with the customer experience, adding the hashtag #bestcustomerservice
     

4 steps to making unified retail a reality

 

This is just one example of how a unified retailer can use customer data to create an amazing customer experience, both in-store and online.

So, how do retailers make the shift to a unified model, enabling a seamless and consistent experience across all customer touch points? It starts with the following four steps:

1. Have the right technology

For unified retail to be realised, all customer interactions needs to be transparent, connected and accurate. There needs to be a seamless interplay between staff in-store and online, where there’s never any risk of a customer receiving recommendations for a product they’ve already bought (or returned). Just the products they want to see, when they want to see them. This requires data to be shared across a single customer platform.

2. Enable a complete view of the customer

We’re talking every tap, click and exchange – across every touch point – recorded and accessible by marketing, e-commerce and customer service. By enabling this level of visibility, unified retailers can cultivate truly personalised customer experiences, no matter what channel their customers use.

3. Create intelligent customer journeys

AI underpins the smartest unified retail experiences. With predictive intelligence, unified retailers can pinpoint:

  • The right customers to target.

  • When and where to target them.

  • The best offers and information to send.

Better yet, AI-driven automation is a great way of simplifying some of unified retail’s more sophisticated processes and enabling more timely customer communications.

4. Leverage in-store mobility

Mobile and unified retail go hand-in-hand. Giving sales assistants tablets not only empowers them by putting that 360-degree view of the customer at their fingertips, it also makes capturing additional data as natural as greeting customers at the door.
 

Unified retail: It’s happening now

 

As customer expectations continue to shift towards wanting fast, consistent and personalised experiences, the case for unified retail is becoming overwhelming. Today’s smartest retailers know it, and they’re busy blending in-store and online experiences to connect with shoppers in a whole new way.

Customer experience is the new brand battlefield, according to the State of Marketing report. Find out more by downloading the report.