If you are committed to making 2017 the year your retail business increases customer loyalty and boosts sales, make sure you evaluate how you are delivering service to your customers.
We polled 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and Canada for our 2016-2017 Great Omnichannel Expectations Shopper Survey and found retailers are doing a better job at providing consistent loyalty experiences across channels. This year, 50.5% of shoppers responded that they feel equally rewarded online and in-store compared to 40.3% last year.
The survey found, however, that retailers are not as successful providing the shopping experiences their customers want in other areas. For example, although 67.8% of shoppers we polled said online shopping is a smooth process, but only about half that number feel the same way about in-store collection processes for online orders. In addition, about half of North American shoppers receive targeted offers online, but don’t receive them in brick-and-mortar stores.
Your ability to collect and analyze data that enables you to deliver the types of experiences your customers want is dependent on technology your business uses. A retail management system (RMS), not merely a point of sale (POS) solution, can give you the visibility into your business you need to manage it competitively and to provide the types of experiences that foster customer loyalty.
Where POS and RMS Differ
The terms “point of sale” and “retail management system” are not synonymous. Legacy POS systems handled functions at the checkout such as totaling sales and accepting payment. Over the past few decades, and more so recently, POS software has evolved to include features including payment processing, promotions, time clock for store employees, and integration with mobile POS.
A retail management system, however, does even more. An RMS includes POS functionality, as well as loyalty management, customer relationship management (CRM), eCommerce integration, inventory management across all channels, and data analytics and reporting.
Limitations without RMS
True, additional functionality can be purchased and deployed as separate solutions. The problem is that not all solutions integrate. Disparate systems don’t allow different departments to communicate efficiently, they require data reentry of data and keep data siloed for reporting, and, most importantly, can interfere with your business’ ability to provide seamless customer experiences.
For example, a customer intending to buy online and pick up in store could be frustrated if inventory information is not correct on your eCommerce site, if orders are not communicated to the local store or to shipping, if accurate orders are not ready for pickup when promised, and if loyalty rewards points are not accurately credited.
A retail management system built on a digital platform corrects these problems with integrated systems that all work together. Data entered in one system is automatically available in all systems. Loyalty program management is simplified and consistent across channels. Shopping and browsing histories are more complete, providing sales associates with a 360-degree view of customers, something 66.4% of the shoppers in our survey say is important to them.
It also enables personalized offers to be pushed to shoppers’ smartphones — and with locationing solutions, sent when they near or enter the store or browse a particular display.
Another benefit of using a retail management system built on a digital store platform is that your system becomes future-proof. When you require new functionality or need to scale, new applications can be added or designed for the platform and will integrate with all other store systems.
The Best RMS Argument of All: Customer Loyalty
A retail management system’s benefits go beyond operational efficiencies and system longevity. The most compelling reason to migrate to an RMS is your customer. With retail management systems, customer experiences are seamless, quick, efficient, and convenient. You can manage loyalty based on data, make relevant, tailored offers, and use real-time or near-real-time data when checking inventory, order status or sales.
You have high standards for the types of customer experiences associated with your brand. In today’s fast-paced, data-driven environment, you need the right technology to support store processes. Evaluate whether your POS system is everything you need to stay competitive and foster customer loyalty, and if there are gaps in integration and functionality, investigate how a retail management system can benefit your business.
Paula Da Silva is the senior vice president of sales for CitiXsys