Paving the Journey of Today’s Shopper

The following is reposted from the October 2016 issue of CSP Daily News and features insight from W. Capra’s, Ed Collupy.

There are all kinds of platforms in the world. In this election year, the candidates’ platforms outline how they’ll implement the issues they support. There were the diving platforms at the Olympics this summer, where the United States won three medals. And there are IT platforms in today’s tech world.

Extending your existing IT platform in today’s digital world means becoming part of the discussion about point-of-sale (POS) as a platform, how mobile and social-media platforms can be leveraged, and how the customer experience should seamlessly flow throughout the shopping journey. Reconsidering longstanding processes and changing how you interact with consumers need to be at the core of what you ask yourself as you develop a digital strategy.

Here are some lessons from work my colleagues have completed with retail clients:

  • Set the right goals. The sole goal of reducing transaction costs, when mobile payment is considered, is not a viable model.
  • Reconsider existing processes. If you’re deploying mobile POS, don’t replicate every function that your fixed POS delivers.
  • Focus on security. Let the customer know you are protecting their data.
  • Ensure solution-provider support. Weave services and products not just within your company’s portfolio but also between vendor solutions.
  • Document future enhancements. Develop a list of potential uses and rate them on a low-medium-high scale based on difficulty and cost to begin prioritizing what to do first.
  • Consider the full brand experience. Digital experiences must meet and/or exceed your customer’s existing brand experience.

Let’s look at the promotion of a new product on digital media, a seemingly simple promotion. It will involve systems in which content is developed and managed, followed by data transfer to the retailer’s master data and item management/ pricebook system, then uploaded to a “platform” for delivery that will stream to web and push pricing to the retail site’s POS system. All of this happens long before the customer even sees the order on a mobile device or on digital media at your store.

Designing the platform’s solution in each channel—be it mobile app, in-store kiosk, at the pump or POS, menu boards, or on social media—needs to include an iterative, feedback-heavy process, be built to minimize ongoing maintenance, and ensure the customer experience comes first.

A digital platform provider’s project manager recently improved the company’s methodology in response to already passed and new approaching deadlines. It does so by creating a process in which every two weeks the project team is seeing a demo on the progress made. The implementation of this feedback loop along with weekly test case reviews made a big improvement in development activities and deadlines.

Serving the Digital Visitor

An integrated view of the overall customer journey is essential. By understanding what a customer wants from the experience and how the interaction can improve his or her connection to your brand, you can ensure that “digital visitors” feel motivated to make an in-store purchase. To win in any digital channel, “listen” to your customers to determine where they are and what they do with the many components of your digital platform. Use analytic tools, some that come with digital solutions or through an add-on, to assess how those interactions are working together. Track customer engagement with your digital solutions to prevent churn.

The team assigned to deliver new digital solutions should pull from every area of the company, and although IT will play a critical role, thought should be put into who the best project leader will be. On my team I want a well-represented cross-functional group—people concerned with the customer experience, operational considerations and execution, marketing messaging and achieving financial objectives.

Implementation of your integrated digital strategy will take a new approach in testing. Getting it right as you go to pilot is essential given the immediate exposure the many digital channels have. Develop and execute a test plan that is thorough. The IT digital platform will be fast to change with new feature enhancements, so you should develop and be committed to regression testing.

For further discussion
If you would like to contact Ed about this article, you can reach him ecollupy@wcapra.com