2016 is just around the corner, and with it fresh opportunities for multichannel retail and wholesale businesses. But with market competition tougher than ever, and customer expectations exceptionally high, how can companies maximise their growth plans for the year ahead?
One major challenge that will face the retail sector next year is making seamless multichannel shopping a reality. For some time now, the industry has talked of a consistent customer experience in all channels, but many retail organisations are still struggling to make that a reality – especially Tier 2, 3 and 4 businesses.
Even in Tier 1, there’s been innovation and investment made over the last 12 months in impressive customer-facing technology, such as digital display advertising and iBeacons, when shopper satisfaction levels are yet to be optimised.
Getting it right in 2016 comes down to one simple to say but difficult to deliver statement: get the customer what they want, when and where they want it. Naturally, that customer should be engaging with businesses across multiple channels and touch points, but even the most sophisticated digital outreach will fall flat if companies can’t get orders to them in the manner requested.
In order to deliver on their promise over the next 12 months, retail organisations need to look inwards, to analyse where improvements need to be made in their current processes, and invest in the technology that can make those changes.
For example, there are many processes in the end-to-end journey – from wholesale right through to fulfilment – that can be automated, at least in part. Moving away from manual processes not only reduces the margin for error; it speeds up the time to customer as well.
Moving to a system capable of automating wholesale, distribution and multichannel capabilities has another significant benefit: bringing all retail operations under a single solution. Too many customer service errors occur at present because key decision makers within the business can’t see either how the customer is behaving in all channels, or where their stock is available throughout the life cycle.
Gaining a single view of all business operations on one platform is essential to serving shoppers consistently wherever they interact. And if this system is cloud-based, multichannel businesses can easily connect new devices to the network, to share critical trading insights across stores, distribution centres and other strategic hubs.
It’s clear that change in 2016 will start from within, however many retail organisations are yet to invest in the back-end technology to support their growth, because they’re unsure what their company requirements are – and getting the solution wrong is a costly mistake. Therefore, next year, we are likely to see more retailers than ever turn to business solution providers for support, to ensure they not only select the right systems, but that they’re implemented in a way that drives profitability.
Meeting customer expectations in 2016 will rely on the integration of channels and processes, to enable the transparency and flexibility necessary to adapt to customer demands.
BlueBridge One can support multichannel businesses with this integration process. As an expert NetSuite ERP solutions provider, we understand how to tailor out-of-the-box functionality to the individual needs of each business, to get them up and running rapidly.
More than that, our experienced NetSuite implementation team cause minimum disruption to day-to-day running – so retail businesses can stay focussed on delivering their customer promise.