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The 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey conducted by BRP Consulting notes that stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalised shopping experience common in the digital world.
"The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience. This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), AI and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey," said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP.
The key customer experience capabilities according to the report are educate, engage, execute, enhance and enablers. One of the areas of greatest improvement is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products. Overall utilisation is up from 73 per cent of retailers utilising it last year to 92 per cent this year, however, many retailers indicate that their current social media offerings need improvement.
Most retailers have plans to implement new technologies to identify customers via their smartphones, mobile applications and other emerging technologies. Within three years, 59 per cent of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi and 63 per cent plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their stores.
About 67 per cent of retailers are offering a consistent product assortment across channels; however, many retailers are still struggling with manual processes as 43 per cent indicate the processes need improvement. Retailers realise the importance of utilising customer insights gathered from social media as 89 per cent of retailers are now using social media comments as a critical customer satisfaction measurement, up from 59 per cent last year.
Enhanced networks are a critical requirement for a unified commerce environment and 76 per cent of retailers plan to enhance or replace their network within the next three years, adds the report. (KD)
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