The retail industry is an ever-changing landscape. In order to keep up with consumers, who are constantly evolving with different needs and wants, retail must be fluid and adaptable in order to keep ahead of those demands. But a few things have altered the way that retail functions, such  as internet and digital technology.

In fact, there are now so many new and varied retail technology solutions that it has become an industry of its own. While online retail is a powerful stand-alone player, perhaps a bigger impact has been made by digital retail solutions on the already existing world of retail. This is because in order to compete with the new digital retail industry, traditional brick-and-mortar retail has been forced to evolve as well, opening the door for retail technology.

Through this merging of the digital and physical, retail has benefited greatly, providing the consumer with a more immersive experience than ever before, one that is unified across every channel.

This concept of unification across every platform is generally known as omni-channel. Almost one-third (30%) of major retailers will adopt an omni-channel commerce platform by 2018, improving customer experience, process efficiency, and inventory management. It is the idea that the customer gets the same experience wherever they access a service, whether online or in a physical store.

How is this possible? Mostly through retail software solutions. These offer a real-time collection of customer behavior and interactions both online and offline, across stores, web, mobile, email, and social. This is incredibly important for a retailer, as it provides the ability to initiate an interaction with a customer on one channel and then pick up where that interaction left off on a different one. This provides a seamless retail experience for both provider and customer.

Omni-channel also provides the ability to manage inventory more effectively, and thus demand. Through retail merchandising solutions businesses are able to track transactions and orders, allowing complete visibility into inventory size at any time. This supports tricky transactions such as click-and-collect, in-store purchases, shipping from other locations, returns on any channel, or split orders.

Omni-channel retail software solutions also provide enhanced shopper insights, which makes for significantly better forecasting. Using predictive technologies, merchandisers can select the right merchandise and assortment strategy for consumers based on location, maximizing sales and profit margin. Marketers can use these same tools to deliver the right offers at the best time, to the right people, using the most effective channel.

It is estimated that 40% of new retail applications purchased in 2017 will be deployed in the cloud to speed and secure business objectives. But what are those objectives, and how exactly do the aforementioned retail software solutions help a business to achieve them? There are a number of monetary benefits provided from cloud and omni-channel retail solutions. Here are just a few ways in which they can boost a business’ bottom line.

As mentioned, cloud retail tech provides real-time access to customer data. This allows business owners and strategists to make better-informed decisions. Furthermore, cloud technology provides rapid innovation and faster rollouts of new ideas, meaning a decrease in time to value. Finally, cloud retail solutions provide enhanced scalability by equipping businesses to more effectively deal with rapid growth or seasonal demand.

Cloud software and omni-channel go hand in hand. By using cloud technology to provide customers with an omni-channel experience, a business can also maximize its own profits. The seamless customer experience leads to improved customer loyalty, and the data collected ensures more accurate decision-making, meaning increased sales and better sell-through of inventory.

 

So how does a business find the best retail solutions? It is mostly about knowing what to look for. Every business has its own specific needs when choosing a platform, but there are a few features that are important across the board. They are:

Having the Right Tools
This is the meat of a CRM platform. Can the platform personalize shopper interactions? Does it provide the ability for 1-to-1 journeys across any channel? A good platform will have tools to turn more shoppers into buyers, create personalized offers, empower associates with training and insights, and provide proper analytics.

Simplified Usability
Everyone, from the CEO down to the newest sales rep, should be able to understand and easily use a CRM platform. After all, it should be a retail solution, not a brand-new retail problem.

Flexibility
Last, a good CRM platform will help, rather than hinder, potential for growth. There should be inherent flexibility within the platform that allows for rapid but controlled growth, as well as helping to deal with any seasonal changes in the company.

One place where you can find all this is Salesforce for Retail. Salesforce can deliver a completely unified shopping experience across web, mobile, and stores, using artificial intelligence to create those sought-after predictive personalized shopper journeys and deliver the best incentive to the right person, through the optimum channel at just the right moment. Take a look at the full range of Salesforce retail services and see what they can do for you.

Even as we become accustomed to the different things that technology can offer, the world of retail will always continue to change and evolve. But a business that uses the right tools will find no problem in keeping ahead of that evolution. The best retail solutions are those tools, and when they are properly utilized it is not just businesses that thrive, but everyone.

Contact us to talk about the latest Salesforce retail solutions, and let us help you set up a strategy to connect with your customers like never before.