Retail Experiences: Five Strategies For Serving The Multidimensional Consumer In Omnichannel Retail

Maria Morais

We are all consumers, and we all like to be seen as people with wishes, hopes, and dreams. The other side of the coin is that we all dislike being controlled or manipulated. However, many times we allow it because we don’t see other options. The social “hamster wheel” keeps us trapped in certain patterns of consumption we can’t get away from, and to a certain extent, we can cope with this type of situation.

But at the exact moment that we see other options and are allowed choices – such as a brand offering something that it’s relevant for us in that shopping moment – we set ourselves free from the dependencies that no longer serve our best interests. Freedom to choose takes us to another level, a level where we can integrate all our different sides and behave according to the circumstances, not according to a linear, predictable pattern of behavior. This apparent change of attitude is just a manifestation of consumer authenticity and not proof that the world is going crazy.

In fact, the fundamental change in consumer industries over the past few years was with the consumer. Consumers are aware of hard-selling, non-personalized marketing techniques, and they don’t engage unless they want to. Some authors say it’s all due to generational changes, others say technology is driving new consumer standards, and some maintain economic factors are the most important aspect driving consumer decisions. All these aspects play an important role for sure, but they don’t seem good enough reasons to justify why consumers are drastically changing how they consume products and services, and they certainly are not good enough to support retailers in decision making for digital transformation use cases.

Consumers want to be seen as people in all of their complex dimensions, but they do not want to be controlled by retailers in their consumption decisions. We believe that retailers that can find a way to interact with consumers while respecting this important boundary will succeed.

Below are five strategies to serve multidimensional consumers in omnichannel retail without the need to control the customer journey.

1. Build your brand by delivering personal experiences your customers can trust

Consumers have high expectations, so to keep your brand promise, you have to deliver a single connected experience across every channel that delivers real value and keeps every promise made. It is important to create offers around the brand that go beyond the transaction, centered on personal interests. For example, you can champion causes that are relevant to your audience’s passions.

Anticipating needs is a very important aspect in omnichannel retail to deliver best-in-class service. Artificial intelligence can help tailor personalized experiences in context to serve the multidimensional consumer in all situations and lifecycles now and in the future.

2. Take control of the supply chain – not of consumers

Integrate your purchasing more closely with suppliers to increase stock visibility and streamline ordering. Actively monitor and manage all inventories from a central system, tracking the progress of stock and raw materials in transit using GPS locators. With artificial intelligence, you can automate routine decision-making, such as prioritizing suppliers based on their reliability or quickly selecting new ones when there are problems. Base your production and purchasing commitments on actual sales revenues as they come in to optimize cash flow and minimize risk.

3. Successfully launch new offers and business models

Based on digitalized products and services, invent new business models and revenue streams such as outcome-based business models, shared economy models, or expansion into new markets.

Continuously reshaping and refreshing the shopper experience is required to remain competitive. Retailers that move first will achieve new levels of insight, responsiveness, and agility, which will help them innovate and forge ahead of their competitors even faster.

4. Orchestrate your business seamlessly across every distribution channel

You can improve your behind-the-scenes operating efficiency by centralizing order management orchestration and fulfillment. It is essential to maintain complete visibility across all your inventories and prioritize them according to the type of order.

For example, a website sale might normally trigger fulfillment from the distribution center closest to the customer. But what happens when the item is out of stock in that location? You can work back through the supply chain hierarchy automatically until you find the item – the next closest inventory, wholesaler, partner warehouse, franchise store, etc. You can arrange to ship from whatever is most effective.

5. Make sustainability a key part of your business

As the environmental impact of fast retail is extremely high – the landfill implications, production waste, and pollution caused by global distribution networks – you have everything to gain by adopting sustainable practices as part of your overall omnichannel retail experience. Some areas you can improve include: optimization of manufacturing and supply chains to minimize pollution, avoid overstock and waste by predicting demand more precisely, position inventories near your markets, incentivize customers to act in sustainable ways, harmonize pay globally, and promote equality.

Retailers must become experts in delivering the most up-to-date and complete multidimensional consumer experience. Everything moves at dizzying speed, and retailers need to take a real-time, business-wide approach to customer experience by connecting demand and supply. The above strategies can be a good starting point for 2019.

How can you set up your organization for success and be sure you’re providing products and solutions customers can trust?  Visit us at NRF: Retail’s Big Show, SAP Retail to learn more about experiences you can trust.

Maria Morais

About Maria Morais

Maria Morais is Global Industry Principal, Consumer Industries for SAP Customer Experience. With over 10 years of experience as trusted advisor for retailers, consumer goods and wholesalers in business and digital transformation topics, Maria delivers business cases and customer experience adoption roadmaps underpinned by commercial growth and market expansion. Over the course of her career Maria has developed a passion for innovation and agile groups to champion change in organizations. Her international background and interest in purpose driven businesses continues to inspire her to achieve more, better and faster for all the clients and partners in the global SAP ecosystem. You can follow Maria Morais on Twitter @ceumorais.