Unified Retail: 

The Why, What and How

Join the race towards a seamless online/offline experience

Unified Retail:

The Why, What and How

Join the race towards a seamless online/offline experience

Why

Why unified retail is the future >

 

What

What unified retail looks like >

 

What

What unified retail looks like >

 

How  

How to get unified retail right >

 

Who

Who’s in unified retail today >

 

In August 1994, a man in Philadelphia bought Sting’s fourth solo album – and changed the shape of retail, forever. 

That’s because, like no one else before him, he bought the CD over the internet. To anyone in retail watching, this was clearly a whole new kind of customer experience.

 

You don’t need us to tell you what happened next. You’ve lived through:

  • the spread of high-speed internet
  • the explosion of cloud services
  • the shift to mobile
  • …and the meteoric rise of ecommerce

Soon, the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers were struggling to compete, replaced by a ‘bricks and clicks’ model: retailers with the best brands were able to build healthy online businesses to supplement their physical store experiences.

 

But, in bricks and clicks, the offline and online experiences are still distinctly separate. Two distinct silos with very little interplay between them; almost no data sharing; and entirely separate customer experiences.

 

Right now, a new retail model is being born: Unified Retailing.

 

Unified retailing isn't so much a movement as an inevitable development for any market that puts customers first.

 

Here’s why.

WHY UNIFIED RETAIL IS THE FUTURE

Unified retail is a seamless experience that blends the best of offline / online shopping:

In-store experiences are still hugely important.

There are some products – perishables, for example – that because of their very nature, most people still want to buy in store.

 

Indeed, online retail has put such a small dent in traditional grocery sales that even Amazon is making moves into physical stores, with their Amazon go stores and their acquisition of Whole Foods.

 

But that’s only half the story. The fact is, there’s nothing like face-to-face interactions for building brand loyalty – even when those interactions aren’t strictly transactional.

 

In store, we can:

  • Try clothes on – or electronics out
  • Get our nails done, or our iPhone fixed
  • Meet and talk with experts, ‘geniuses’ and brand ambassadors
  • Enjoy shopping as a leisure activity

85%

In 2025, 85% of purchases will still 
be made in store

Online retailers need new ways to differentiate

Today’s savviest online retailers also understand the power of in-store experiences to differentiate them from the pureplay ecommerce pack.

 

Witness the ‘clubhouses’ of Rapha, the cycling clothing and accessories brand, where prospects and customers drink coffee, watch races, and browse products, all at the same time. 

‘The key reasons these work is the hangout vibe, it’s not a clothes shop’.

Simon Mottra, Founder, Rapha

Online retailers need new ways to differentiate

Today’s savviest online retailers also understand the power of in-store experiences to differentiate them from the pureplay ecommerce pack.

 

Witness the ‘clubhouses’ of Rapha, the cycling clothing and accessories brand, where prospects and customers drink coffee, watch races, and browse products, all at the same time. 
Traditional retailers need to capitalise on their assets

Online retailers have raised customer expectations in terms of personalised, transparent, convenient shopping experiences.

 

But established bricks and mortar retailers have a distinct edge when it comes to delivering convinence through a unified retail model.

 

That’s because as online retailers rush to create tailored, face-to-face interactions in the key shopping locations for their customer bases, their bricks and mortar peers are already firmly planted on many of the right high streets.

79%

of shoppers want retailers to 
send them personalised offers

Unified retail promises massive operational efficiencies

Then there's the sheer economics. A unified approach to retail can deliver all the benefits of in-store interactions, while dramatically cutting floorspace and personnel costs.

 

Bonobos, the men's wear company recently acquired by Walmart, is a classic example of a unified retailer built for efficiency. Each Bonobos shop acts as a product showcase with fitting rooms - but carries no inventory. Orders are placed online, and items delivered to the customer's home.

“The core product that we’re selling is an amazing customer experience”

Andy Dunn, CEO, Bonobos

Unified retail promises massive operational efficiencies

Then there's the sheer economics. A unified approach to retail can deliver all the benefits of in-store interactions, while dramatically cutting floorspace and personnel costs.

 

Bonobos, the men's wear company recently acquired by Walmart, is a classic example of a unified retailer built for efficiency. Each Bonobos shop acts as a product showcase with fitting rooms - but carries no inventory. Orders are placed online, and items delivered to the customer's home.

Unified retail gets you even closer to your customers

When your in-store experience is integrated with your online experience, your shop floor becomes another arena for customer data capture.

 

Whether your associates are recording preferences on their iPad, or taking email addresses to issue digital receipts, a unified retail model unites your customer profile data, helping you get to know customers like never before.

58%

of shoppers say store associates need the ability to look up product details on demand on a mobile device

WHAT UNIFIED RETAIL LOOKS LIKE

As you'll have gathered, you don't become a unified retailer simply by selling through both physical and online channels.

Unified retail means using those channels to deliver a seamless, consistent customer experience, whether it's on your ecommerce site, or on Oxford Street - from first contact and purchase, to service interactions, loyalty schemes, and beyond.

 

What does a seamless, consistent experience look like?

 

Well, it could look something like this …

Step 1
Jen buys a pair of blue trousers from ExampleCo Clothing – her first time.
Step 2
The sales associate offers her a digital receipt, capturing her email address and creating a customer profile that can be seen by Marketing, eCommerce and Service teams.
Step 3 
A day later, Jen receives an automatically generated Marketing email, recommending a pink top that customers often buy with Jen’s blue trousers.
Step 4
Jen doesn’t bite, but does end up browsing the ExampleCo website, putting a pair of black pumps on her wishlist.
Step 5
That weekend, as Jen is passing the store, she gets picked up by ExampleCo’s beacons, and pinged an offer – 10% off the pumps she’s been looking at.
Step 6
While she’s buying them, the sales associate uses a clienteling solution on her tablet to make some further product recommendations, capture even more data about Jen’s preferences, and sign her up to ExampleCo’s loyalty program.
Step 7
Jen loves her new shoes, but within a week, she finds the sole’s coming loose. She tweets her disappointment, along with a picture of the damage.
Step 8
ExampleCo’s social listening tool picks up the tweet, and automatically creates a customer service case..
Step 9
Within the hour, ExampleCo is in touch. Fully aware of Jen’s purchase history and personal details, the service agent is able to quickly arrange dispatch replacements to Jen’s home.
Step 10
Jen takes to social media again, and this time, it’s with the hashtags #ExampleCo and #AmazingCustomerService.

Step 1

Jen buys a pair of blue trousers from ExampleCo Clothing – her first time.

Step 2

The sales associate offers her a digital receipt, capturing her email address and creating a customer profile that can be seen by Marketing, eCommerce and Service teams.

Step 3

A day later, Jen receives an automatically generated Marketing email, recommending a pink top that customers often buy with Jen’s blue trousers.

Step 4

Jen doesn’t bite, but does end up browsing the ExampleCo website, putting a pair of black pumps on her wishlist.

Step 5

That weekend, as Jen is passing the store, she gets picked up by ExampleCo’s beacons, and pinged an offer – 10% off the pumps she’s been looking at.

Step 6 

While she’s buying them, the sales associate uses a clienteling solution on her tablet to make some further product recommendations, capture even more data about Jen’s preferences, and sign her up to ExampleCo’s loyalty program.

Step 7

Jen loves her new shoes, but within a week, she finds the sole’s coming loose. She tweets her disappointment, along with a picture of the damage.

Step 8

ExampleCo’s social listening tool picks up the tweet, and automatically creates a customer service case...

Step 9

Within the hour, ExampleCo is in touch. Fully aware of Jen’s purchase history and personal details, the service agent is able to quickly arrange dispatch replacements to Jen’s home.

Step 10

Jen takes to social media again, and this time, it’s with the hashtags #ExampleCo and #AmazingCustomerService.
Step 1
Jen buys a pair of blue trousers from ExampleCo Clothing – her first time.
Step 2

The sales associate offers her a digital receipt, capturing her email address and creating a customer profile that can be seen by Marketing, eCommerce and Service teams.

Step 3

A day later, Jen receives an automatically generated Marketing email, recommending a pink top that customers often buy with Jen’s blue trousers.

Step 4

Jen doesn’t bite, but does end up browsing the ExampleCo website, putting a pair of black pumps on her wishlist.

Step 5
That weekend, as Jen is passing the store, she gets picked up by ExampleCo’s beacons, and pinged an offer – 10% off the pumps she’s been looking at
Step 6

While she’s buying them, the sales associate uses a clienteling solution on her tablet to make some further product recommendations, capture even more data about Jen’s preferences, and sign her up to ExampleCo’s loyalty program.

Step 7

Jen loves her new shoes, but within a week, she finds the sole’s coming loose. She tweets her disappointment, along with a picture of the damage.

Step 8

ExampleCo’s social listening tool picks up the tweet, and automatically creates a customer service case.

Step 9 

Within the hour, ExampleCo is in touch. Fully aware of Jen’s purchase history and personal details, the service agent is able to quickly arrange dispatch replacements to Jen’s home.

Step 10

Jen takes to social media again, and this time, it’s with the hashtags #ExampleCo and #AmazingCustomerService.

WHAT UNIFIED RETAIL LOOKS LIKE

As you'll have gathered, you don't become a unified retailer simply by selling through both physical and online channels.

Unified retail means using those channels to deliver a seamless, consistent customer experience, whether it's on your ecommerce site, or on Oxford Street - from first contact and purchase, to service interactions, loyalty schemes, and beyond.

 

What does a seamless, consistent experience look like? Well, it could look something like this …

Step 1

Jen buys a pair of blue trousers from ExampleCo Clothing – her first time.

Step 2

The sales associate offers her a digital receipt, capturing her email address and creating a customer profile that can be seen by Marketing, eCommerce and Service teams.

Step 3 

A day later, Jen receives an automatically generated Marketing email, recommending a pink top that customers often buy with Jen’s blue trousers.

Step 4

Jen doesn’t bite, but does end up browsing the ExampleCo website, putting a pair of black pumps on her wishlist.

Step 5

That weekend, as Jen is passing the store, she gets picked up by ExampleCo’s beacons, and pinged an offer – 10% off the pumps she’s been looking at. 

Step 6

While she’s buying them, the sales associate uses a clienteling solution on her tablet to make some further product recommendations, capture even more data about Jen’s preferences, and sign her up to ExampleCo’s loyalty program.

Step 7

Jen loves her new shoes, but within a week, she finds the sole’s coming loose. She tweets her disappointment, along with a picture of the damage.

Step 8

ExampleCo’s social listening tool picks up the tweet, and automatically creates a customer service case.

Step 9

Within the hour, ExampleCo is in touch. Fully aware of Jen’s purchase history and personal details, the service agent is able to quickly arrange dispatch replacements to Jen’s home.

Step 10

Jen takes to social media again, and this time, it’s with the hashtags #ExampleCo and #AmazingCustomerService.

HOW TO GET UNIFIED RETAIL RIGHT

If you're a retailer with a bricks and mortar presence - or you're ready to acquire one - you can start building unified experiences like Jen's. Today.

First, you’ll need to put a few foundation stones in place…

1

Converge on a truly end-to-end, automated platform.

You may love the service platform you developed in house, but here's the bitter truth: siloed systems kill unified retail. (They're also responsible for customers being sent marketing for products they've already bought - and complained about.)

 

To do the really impressive unified stuff you’ll need:

  • A single platform
  • A platform that extends across marketing, ecommerce and service

2

Create a 360-degree
customer view.

Every bit of relevant customer data, ready to inform every customer interaction. That’s the goal.

 

Creating a 360-degree customer view is essential to aligning online and in-store experiences, and building effective, personalised customer journeys that drive engagement and conversion.

 

And it gets easier with every siloed system you jettison.

3

Get smart about AI.

 

AI has come a long way in an incredibly short time. Right now, it can help you with many of the toughest parts of unified retail, such as understanding:

  • Which customers to target
  • When to target them
  • What to offer them
  • Which channel to use

It’s also great for predicting customer behaviour and automating complex tasks.

4

See whole journeys

A unified retail experience may take in any number of channels and touches. If you haven't already, it's time to scrutinise the journeys your customers are currently taking - and imagine what they'd prefer those journeys to look like.

 

Because unified journeys are so complex, you'll want to automate as many steps as possible. (See the AI benefits above).

5

Embrace mobile in-store

Astounding unified retail experiences depend on putting your 360-degree customer view, product insights and more in the hands of everyone - especially those on the shop floor.

 

The bottom line? Mobile clienteling solutions are a must. As well as empowering reps with customer's preferences and purchase histories, they make capturing additional data fast, natural and easy.

6

Plan to scale

We all know retail moves fast.

 

The systems you choose to support your unified retail model must be designed to scale with a minimum of time, effort and cost - letting you:

  • Light up new websites
  • Move into new markets and territories
  • Deliver new apps
     

… all while the opportunity’s still fresh.

WHO'S BLAZING A TRAIL IN UNIFIED RETAIL TODAY

Ready to be inspired? Meet some of unified retail's greatest trailblazers…

Aldo

See how Aldo is working to reinvent the role of its stores from sales channel, to experience and service channel - and create more 'Wow!' moments along the way.

The race to unified retail is on – don't get left behind

Whether you're a mighty bricks and mortar behemoth or an agile ecommerce ninja, now's the time to think very seriously about nailing your unified retail strategy.

 

Your first step? Read our Europe Connected Shoppers Report to discover exactly how shopping behaviours are changing, and how you can keep pace.

The race to unified retail is on – don’t get left behind

Whether you're a mighty bricks and mortar behemoth or an agile ecommerce ninja, now's the time to think very seriously about nailing your unified retail strategy.

 

Your first step? Read our Europe Connected Shoppers Report to discover exactly how shopping behaviours are changing, and how you can keep pace.

2017 salesforce.com, inc.

All rights reserved

2017 salesforce.com, inc.

All rights reserved