September 11, 2015

A digital customer journey, the way your customers want it

Ilkka Lappalainen

Senior Industry Consultant, Tieto

The idea of the digital customer journey is part of a completely new, omnichannel paradigm for retailers. It's forced them to be honest with themselves, examining what customers really want from the shopping process and whether their old strategies are still primed for success.

In order to make this transition, retailers need time and money, as well as the courage to act differently than they did in the past. And they need to remember: it's not just about what customers want, but the way they want it.

One thing customers want is for their deliveries to be fast, fun and cheap, and to offer an almost limitless number fulfilment options. This sounds complicated, but with real-time supply chain visibility, is it really out of reach?

Fast delivery

Same-day delivery is a supply chain holy grail, and the Nordic region's long distances and low population density makes it unattainable a lot of the time. Still, fulfilment isn't just about getting the goods to the customer within a particular timeframe - it can also refer to informing them when their items have left the warehouse, giving them the ability to track delivery route, and providing an ETA to their home or a collection point.

Supply chain visibility is a prerequisite, of course. If you don't know where the items are located at a specific point or time, how can you update the customer?

This kind of visibility allows retailers to optimise their own actions, as well as their subcontractors, from order to fulfilment. It also provides real-time insight into inventory levels and therefore availability, so the customer can learn in advance if their order might be delayed. In turn, they're less likely to be disappointed and the retailer is more likely to close the deal.

Fun delivery

People want to feel good when they spend their money. In the sphere of customer experience, I think that functionality is underrated as a source of fun - who doesn't find it enjoyable when they're able to get something with less effort than usual? A combination of innovative UI features and efficient back office processes allows retailers to offer something their competitors don't - a sense of effortless satisfaction.

As before, supply chain visibility is necessary in order to make this kind of functionality-driven customer satisfaction possible. In the future, retailers might also experiment with game-like elements to make transactions even more fun for their customers.

Cheap delivery

Customers often feel entitled to free delivery once they've parted with their money, which isn't always financially viable for retailers. They're faced with the following dilemma:

  • If I offer the customer free delivery, what's in it for me?
  • If I don't offer the customer free delivery, what can I offer them as a substitute?

One solution that many retailers already use is to offer click-and-collect services. Delivery costs are minimised thanks to better logistics, while the customer visits the store more frequently - an opportunity to generate more sales.

Of course, the question remains of how you attract the customer to pick up their items in store in the first place. One technique could be to use analytics and business intelligence to set appropriate pricing strategies and discounts:

  • Should the retailer use dynamic pricing based on customer activity?
  • Can analytics tools tell us who's buying and whether they need a discount?
  • What's the most cost-effective location to deliver a given product? And in which location will the greatest discount be required?

Options

The omnichannel environment is forcing retailers to reconsider their traditional business models. As customer demands evolve, they're beginning to find themselves under pressure to fulfill orders from different links in the supply chain. The keywords here are how, when and where.

For example, a customer might choose to place an order in any one of the following channels:

  • Brick-and-mortar store
  • Call centre
  • Online order
  • Mobile order
  • Repeat orders
  • Instructions for 3D printing
  • Manufacturer
  • Brand store

Delivery options may also vary wildly:

  • Traditional store purchase
  • Collection in store
  • Delivery from manufacturer
  • Delivery from brand store
  • Delivery to nearest pick up point
  • Delivery to home
  • Collection from print shop
  • 3D printer at home

Altogether, these options give retailers a lot to think about. Moreover, some add-on services will need to be synchronised - the installation of a washing machine after delivery, for example, which could play a key role in ensuring customer satisfaction.

A retailer that coordinates physical and digital channels effectively stands to gain a major competitive advantage in the omnichannel world. To make this happen, however, real-time supply chain visibility is essential.

You can read more about Tieto Retail Experience and the shopping of the future here. For futher reading, check out our infographic 'Digital customer journey in retail'.

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Digital customer experience management in retail

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