The future of retail is bright and some would say, it will become a synergy between online and offline. However, if you listen closely to the news these days, retail seems to be going through a big battle, with the opposing sides being online and offline shopping. Online shopping overtakes in-store retail, scream the news. But wait: by 2021, most retail sales will still happen in brick-and-mortar stores. Is it the death of the physical store? No! – it’s the rebirth of the mall, and the physical store.
Through all this noise, one thing is for sure: retail is not dead. But one-channel retail may be on its way out, bridging the gap between online and offline shopping in the future with the help of unified commerce software.
The future is all channels
In the future, success will be determined by a retailer’s ability to create a synergy between online and offline. The future is all channels. That’s how consumers think, and it makes business sense for retailers to think this way, too – for many reasons. Here are a few: Omni-channel customers are more valuable to a brand than single channel-ones
According to research by Adyen, the global payments company, customers who shop across multiple channels spend 30% more per purchase than customers who stick to just one channel. To compile this study, Adyen used a year’s worth of transaction data from its global payments platform, amounting to over €159 billion.
Offering across-channel returns can increase loyalty
According to research from Shopify, 67% of shoppers check a retailer‘s return policy before they buy. What they are looking for, according to Forrester research, are a simple return process, and across-channel returns. That is, being able to return in-store items that were bought online. “There are a lot of people who don’t even bother returning [items] because it’s such a pain, and when they don’t bother returning, they just don’t shop with you again,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester.
Click and collect customers buy extra items while picking up in store
Forbes reports that 85% of customers who click and collect end up buying extra products while picking up their order in store. In-store returns also have a similar effect: 70% of shoppers returning products in a physical location end up purchasing something else. Boost traffic to your e-commerce portal, reap the benefits
When retailers open new physical stores, the traffic to their e-commerce store increases dramatically, retail research agency L2 reports. When a new store opens, traffic to the e-commerce grows. Likewise, when the physical locations multiply, so do the brand mentions and searches. According to L2, this online buzz comes with financial returns, which makes physical stores a good investment for a brand in terms of both popularity and profitability.
How to be truly omni-channel
It pays off to sell on multiple channels. But being a true omni-channel retailer requires much more than setting up an e-commerce store and opening physical locations.
Today’s consumers expect consistent, smooth interactions across all brand touchpoints. They want to browse, buy, pick up, return and exchange products where, when, and as they prefer. They also expect to have access all the information they need to make a choice, when they need it. This includes product details, item comparisons, and real-time stock availability, online and offline. Finally, today’s shoppers expect to be recognized by their favorite brands. They want personalized attention and suggestions based on their tastes and previous purchases, no matter which channel they use to interact.
This is a difficult proposition for many businesses. Too many retailers still manage their business as a set of disconnected channels, with separate systems to handle each different operation: one for inventory, one for the point of sale, one for the e-commerce, one for accounting, and so on. As a result, they are left with siloed business and customer data which is stored in separate databases. Hence why they are unable to get a complete, clear overview of their business. And if the systems they are using all store data in different formats, retailers won‘t be able to extract the information they need, and connect it in a meaningful, reliable way. The consequences are dramatic: here is all the data you need to deliver great customer-centric experiences – but you can’t use it, because the data is fragmented, and it would be too expensive and complex to organize, analyses and correlate.
The solution is technology that integrates all consumer-facing channels – physical, web, social and mobile – into one platform, delivering a single, reliable version of the truth.
At LS Retail, we call this unified commerce.
What is unified commerce?
BRP Consulting defines unified commerce as “a single, centralized, real-time platform for all customer engagement points [which] combines POS [point of sale], mobile, web, call center and clienteling.”
With unified commerce, you get a whole stack of functionality within just one enterprise-wide software platform that covers your business front to back, across all channels. No more disparate software solutions for separate tasks that you need to integrate and maintain separately. You can set items and prices, create offers and deals, manage orders and inventory, plan and track marketing campaigns and customer relationships for your e-commerce and in your stores. Keeping all your systems under control, without having to switch software systems is easier now. All of your sales channels are brought together and connected in real-time. As a result, you get a single, complete view of your entire operation, as well as of every instance your customers interact with your business, their habits, preferences, and behaviors.
To achieve the complete view across the channels out of the box, LS Retail collaborates with some of the best known global eCommerce platform providers and tech partners. The unified omni-channel experience you experience when using Shopify and LS Central is the fruit of a strategic collaboration between LS Retail and VL OMNI. As a result, your channels communicate seamless out of the box. All new features and upgrades we add to the system will be automatically delivered to you as part of our official collaboration.
The best part of unified commerce is, your data finally makes sense. No conflicting information or need to spend time linking data from different sources. And no more waiting for reports! You get a clear, real-time view of your business, and can act on it – fast, and with the knowledge you are basing your decisions on trustworthy, up-to-date figures.
Infusing your retail business with intelligence
Organized data in a single database with a consistent format, it’s much easier to analyze, and use to achieve your goals. For example, it can be run through predictive analytics and artificial intelligence tools. Therefore, delivering business insights and build more effective, engaging and personalized customer interactions.
Unified commerce therefore also enables you to leverage artificial intelligence tools, which can help you:
- Transform data into actionable information, which you can use for decision-making.
- Drive a targeted marketing strategy using the unified view of consumers across transactions, channels, social media and more.
- Support your logistics and operations, using the real-time information on sales and inventory levels to generate realistic, reliable forecasts of what to keep in stock, where and when.
- Create fantastic customer experiences with personalized suggestions, delivered at the correct moment.
Creating the future of retail
At LS Retail, we believe that the retail of the future is seamless, personalized, intelligent and real time. Technology is transforming the retail industry, and creating great opportunities for those who are ready to grab it.
We have been developing software solutions for retail and hospitality for three decades, always staying at the forefront of change. With our software solutions, you can:
- Make your business a pleasure. As a retailer, you need technology that streamlines your work, and saves you time and money. With our unified systems, you get all the information you need in one place. You can share it with a broad spectrum of users across your company, enabling staff at all locations. This includes your remote employees, to perform effective work at any time, anywhere.
- Create superior customer experiences. With our unified solutions, your customers can start, stop, continue and finish their shopping journey as they prefer. Their experience is completely seamless, and you can offer a whole variety of options – click & collect; buy online, return in-store; order in-store, have it delivered from another location to their home. At the same time, you can always keep a full view of your consumers, no matter which channel they decide to shop in today. This enables you to put the customer experience center stage, in the simplest way possible.
- Help you keep everything under control. Change prices, manage inventory, create new promotions and offers just once, and distribute them to all your points of sale and channels. Easy, quick, no duplicate work required. The system also enables you to maintain complete control of your inventory across all locations. As a result, you can make sure it is always in the right place, without any annoying out of stocks and overstocks.
- Keep you at the forefront of change. Innovation is one of our core values. We invest a large part of our budget in Research and Development so that we can always find new ways to keep you competitive.
With a unified platform, you can finally put your customers at the heart of your business – but that is not all there is to it. Unified commerce is a holistic approach: it encompasses your whole enterprise, and transforms it for the future.
When your business runs on the LS Retail unified commerce solutions infused with intelligence, you know you are prepared for whatever new demands tomorrow’s consumers will bring.
About LS Retail:
LS Retail is a world-leading developer and provider of unified commerce software for retail, hospitality and forecourt businesses.
Every day the LS Retail management systems power tens of thousands of retail stores, restaurants and gas stations, ranging from startups to large enterprises, across the globe.
The LS Retail solutions unite ERP, Point of Sale, e-commerce, order and inventory management, CRM, advanced analytics and more, in just one platform. This means our customers can use one single platform to run their whole business across all their sales channels. As a result, our solutions have helped thousands of businesses cut IT costs, reduce mistakes, gain control over their whole operation, take timely strategic business decisions and build superior customer experiences. Learn more at www.LSRetail.com