Retail has evolved over the years. I have vivid memories of going to a store to buy things along with my mother. In the late 90s, I first encountered online shopping (web) in one of my foreign trips and had my first experience of web shopping. It was not that much fun then but still was an innovation that I could shop very distanced from the store. Then in 2008, Apple created its APP Store, and slowly from there, mobile application development started. I recollect reading in 2012 about the popularity of mobile applications for the first time, more than web and more usage of mobile apps for online purposes. We have seen three channels of trade in Retail, the store, the web, and mobile.
As different channels emerged, companies that were running old and legacy ERP systems struggled to cope up to online and did patch systems to present online as a discrete web development, unintegrated to their legacy ERP systems. Soon CIO and business users realized that they are unable to provide unified customer experience across channels. Alongside with the proliferation of technology and its adoption by younger generations, customer experience as a “movement” started gaining momentum. Customers were demanding good experience and repeated their purchase, where they felt good experience was the norm.
Retailers, who felt happy that they are offering omnichannel experience, fell short of providing unified commerce. Unified commerce is about unifying all platforms as if it is a single platform, both in the front-end experience as well as the back-end ERP applications of a Retailer. Most Retailers failed to unify their back-end for omni channel capabilities. Most often, they had multiple administrators managing store, web, and mobile configurations of offers, promotions, and discounts. Contradictions in offers were visible due to time lag in configuration updates.
While designing our Retail ViVA ERP, we kept the critical maxim of single administration for all channels, be it physical store or web or mobile. What customers see is the same across channels as administration is unified for all.
Unified commerce-enabled systems also provide visibility of stock company-wide, analytics of customer behaviours channel-wise, and thus facilitates more understanding of the customer from Retailers’ point of view. Any personalization can’t be attempted without the above basics. It is personalization that enhances customer experience and thus enhances customer retention.
Don’t settle for just Omnichannel enablement in your ERP, settle for unified commerce, and single administration of all channels. That’s key to the success of enabling excellent customer experience!!