Achieving Single Commerce Channel Congruence
By Barbara Emener Karasek / May 2016Insights
With growing expectations by consumers that their shopping experience will transcend across numerous commerce channels, why is it that, according to a recent POS and customer benchmarking survey, only 8% of retailers indicated they had already implemented a single commerce platform1?
Whether the customer experience begins in the digitalsphere and ends in the brick and mortar or starts in the store and ends on a mobile device, the harsh reality for retailers is that the customers’ expectation for their shopping and buying experience boils down to one word: congruence2. It is a harsh reality that retailers must address and strive to achieve congruence in order to maintain a distinct advantage in the marketplace.
What does it mean for retailers to deliver customer shopping experience congruence? Originating in the late 14th century from the Latin word congruentia meaning “agreement and harmony”, and the present principle of congruere meaning “to come together”2 to deliver a congruent shopping experience a retailer administers a seamless, aligned, harmonious journey regardless of the selected shopping channel. In essence, the multi-channel experience becomes one and the customer’s shopping and buying experience albeit in-store, online (web, mobile), or in-app truly shall intertwine and convey a seamless, err congruent, experience.
Retailers like Walmart and IKEA are not only at the forefront of innovation with multi-channel experiences and channel offerings, but also leading the industry with efforts to provide one single commerce platform experience for their customers.
Let’s explore what retailers need to be thinking about, and acting on, in order to achieve success as a single commerce channel retailer.
Address the Priorities (see side bar)
In the BRG survey1, retailers indicated the top three priorities across all channels are Payment Security, Unified Commerce and Real Time Retail. Key elements of Payment Security priorities include end to end encryption and tokenization. Tokenization is the process of substituting a sensitive data element, such as a card holder’s primary account number (PAN), with a non-sensitive equivalent, referred to as a token, that has no extrinsic or exploitable meaning or value4. With statistics indicating that 663% more retailers will have a single commerce platform in four years, the pressure is on the retailer to provide seamless fulfillment protocols. And single commerce platforms seemingly go hand in hand with order management solutions. So it’s no surprise that single commerce platform target gives credibility to the survey results of a 250% increase in the implementation of order management solutions over the next three years. And it’s even no more of a surprise that with the continuance of technology and retail melding into one (shall we call it “techtail”?), we see the survey results indicating the retailers will progressively know more about the customer’s purchase patterns and even so much as to know the specific contents of their closet.
Build Capabilities That Are Complementary and Cohesive
Walmart is focused on optimizing its mobile app and Web experiences in a way that feels complementary and cohesive. Communicating with app users is also at the forefront of its initiatives. 3
Focus on the Customer
Successful retailers are beginning with the customer, identifying his or her primary needs and wants, and working backwards to figure out what technologies solve those needs and wants3. Retailers like IKEA3 are “combining the online experience and how people act in the store” to provide services that “make sense, giving the customer the power to decide what to do and where to take the next step.” IKEA is a leader in recognizing the need to identify their customers’ needs and wants, and more importantly, build capabilities and offerings to reflect those customer needs and wants. Sometimes the problem solving will be channel by channel, meaning that though a customer has expectations for a congruent omnichannel shopping experience a customer may have differing needs and/or wants in-store versus online versus on their mobile device. Retailers like Walmart are enacting enhanced shopping experience conveniences – such as smartphone-enabled pickup options – which leverages a great digital experience with the chain’s operational expertise3.
Alleviate Pain Points
When retailers begin with the customer in mind and emphatically care about the customer’s needs and wants, the customer’s pain points seem to become clear as day. IKEA impresses how important it is to create commerce activations that help the consumer and are not just there to provide something flashy and cool3. As mentioned above, a customer may have differing needs and/or wants in-store versus online versus on their mobile device. The same is true for pain points, meaning a customer may have differing pain points in-store versus online versus on their mobile device. It’s up to the retailer to know everything about its customer, the journey and buying experience at every touch point to identify and clearly articulate, and solve, the pain points. The more retailers can identify and understand the pain points, the more retailers can pin point and deliver solutions to the customer.
Retailers truly have an opportunity to offer customers one single channel experience for all things commerce. By listening to your customers’ needs and wants, providing offerings to alleviate pain points, and implement order management solutions, retailers will be able to seamlessly deliver a congruent commerce experience to every customer.
1 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, Boston Retail Group
3 Mobile Commerce Daily, May 6, 2016
Contributed by Barbara Emener Karasek, Independent Strategic Business Growth Advisor
Barbara spent 20+ years in global marketing and business development roles with sports, entertainment, retail, and consumer product companies, and is currently an independent strategic business growth advisor for numerous companies and non-profits. A lifelong athlete who parlayed hard court teachings to her business roles, she went from being a four-sport high school athlete to earning a BA in Sociology (1992) from Furman University, where she attended on a four-year volleyball scholarship, served as Team Captain, won the 1990 Southern Conference Championship title, earned All-Conference honors, and still holds many school records. She went on to earn an MA in Mass Communication (1995) from the University of South Florida, which honored her in 2008 with its Outstanding Alumnus Award. Committed to lifelong learning, Barbara completed the Strategic Marketing Management course at Harvard Business School and is certified in Lean Six Sigma. She is involved with the CMO Council, American Marketing Association and a variety of charities. Barbara and her husband Tony, a former professional basketball player, stay busy with charity work, highly competitive sports-related hobbies, and a never-ending search for the perfect fishing spot. You can follow Barbara on LinkedIn and Twitter, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.