By Antonia Renner, Principal Solutions Marketing Manager, Informatica
The holiday shopping season is in full swing for most people. NRF/ Prosper Insights found that almost 58% of shoppers had already started buying holiday gifts in November.
For retailers holiday season preparations typically start about six months in advance in order to get the best out of this time.
Besides early planning, retail organizations need a competitive end-to-end strategy, be agile, and streamline internal and external collaboration, workflows and omnichannel strategy. In short, retailers have to drive their digital transformation. In their 2017 predictions for worldwide retail, IDC says that by 2019, digital transformation investments will triple, drawing funds away from store capital and profoundly changing the retail industry. This also includes making the switch from a retailer selling products only to becoming a truly customer-centric organization owning the customer experience.
Here are five strategies to help retailers provide a wonderful shopping experience:
1. Provide a seamless customer shopping experience
Create a unique and seamless, consistent, and integrated shopping experience across channels, in-store, online, mobile or catalog. A simple example: A customer wants to purchase a promotional offer in your store, e.g. a Christmas dress, but the right size is currently not available. No issue, if the customer easily finds exactly the same offer in your online store, with current and complete product information and high quality images or videos of the dress. An easy and informed customer purchase journey enabled by a true omnichannel strategy and supported by product information management (PIM) helps sell more products faster.
2. Avoid supply chain disruptions
Imagine one of your most important suppliers is unable to deliver what you ordered for the high season. A nightmare or are you prepared? As a retailer, you need to take a strategic approach to supplier relationship management as the success of your business relies on your vendors. Missing supplier information, bad supply chain visibility and no trusted view of suppliers can lead to bad decision making, missed market opportunities, high costs, slow time-to-market, and increased manual workloads. Supplier relationship management applications can show you alternate suppliers in case you have a supply chain disruption with your standard supplier.
3. Great customer experience starts with great supplier product data
For a great customer shopping experience, you need to be able to provide great product data – data that you typically receive from suppliers. For a maximum of data quality and consistency and for streamlined collaboration with your vendors, it is crucial to standardize and automate operational processes, like data or supplier on-boarding. A master data-fueled self-service portal allowing vendors to do both, share company information and upload new product catalogs streamlines workflows and reduces manual and redundant workloads. Embedded data quality checks ensure the retailer always has access to the latest product information. For a trusted and consolidated 360 view of supplier and product information, leading retailers go for master-data fueled applications underpinned by multi-domain Master Data Management (MDM).
4. Trusted, secure and connected data is key
Whatever you do, trusted, secure and connected data is key. It starts with a customer email or postal address and ends with specific product attributes like an allergen. If you don’t implement data quality rules in your digital workflows and processes, you will be lost. Data quality checks help avoid issues with unhappy customers: Address verification and standardization helps ensure accurate and timely delivery of Christmas gifts. Embedding quality rules for complying with GS1 industry standards even help avoid health or legal issues that could occur because of missing allergen information on a chocolate bar.
5. Ensure agility and fast time to market
Business agility is critical to successful delivery of business value, cost savings and an important driver of competitive advantage in retail. Retailers need to be able to quickly react to changing market requirements and deal with demand volatility, e.g., handle the uncertainty of how consumers will behave during the Christmas shopping season and accelerate time to market to meet consumer demands. Strategies 1.-4. help your business become more agile and increase operational efficiencies – not only during the most important shopping season of the year.
It’s in your hands. Wishing you a wonderful shopping time.