The Importance of Product Information Management Solutions in Creating a Compelling Customer Experience.

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CUSTOMER SIGNALS: SHINING A LIGHT ON CX IN RETAIL

To download this Insights Piece as a printable .PDF, click here.
To watch the full Panel Discussion, click here.
To learn more about Oracle Customer Experience (CX), click here.

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INTRODUCTION
As consumers, we are all enmeshed in the circuitry of modern Retail. We are constantly sending out signals, from dim, pulses of interest in moments of intrigue and discovery through to blindingly clear statements of purchase intent. A misinterpretation of these signals, a single misstep in engagement, will trip a fuse on the path to purchase.

We convened a virtual panel to hear how Mike Ainsworth, General Manager Marketing, Barbeques Galore; Jason Rickard, Digital Customer Experience Manager, Terry White Chemist; and Chris Spence, Country Head, Oracle Marketing Cloud are powering experiences by harnessing consumer insights. Moderated by Paul Waddy, CEO, The Horse, our conversation identified the practical steps businesses can take to create a sharp image of every customer that enters your brand ecosystem. We are sharing some of the summarised insights from this executive conversation with you today.

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PAUL {moderator}
To begin, what are your opening impressions on the current state of experiential Retail?

JASON
The importance of comprehensive customer-journey mapping, taking into account consumer emotions, trigger points, pain points, and need states cannot be overstated. Only once we understand the path our customers are on, and by extension, the pathways we anticipate delivering in the future, can we being consolidating our approach to connecting and activating data. Data acquisition becomes relatively straightforward when armed with this visibility over the customer’s journey; we apply digital tracking to our properties, ingesting data through subscription forms and booking engines alongside other inputs. The next step is activating that data with content. While data powers our marketing automation, content provides a purpose and drives consumer outcomes by delivering pertinent messages at precise moments of the customer’s journey.

MIKE
The most important part of customer experience is truly understanding your brand and connecting your purpose and promise through to consumers. For us, customer experience is about delivering sincere moments and honest empathy in all our consumer engagements. Too often, experiential efforts are focussed too low in the funnel; there is extremely fertile soil in the ground above to drive experiences in the consideration and preferences phases of the customer’s journey. Another immense area of opportunity is leveraging online and offline environments harmoniously as part of a broader recognition that success hinges on the sum of all parts. It’s highly counter-intuitive to dwell on the success of individual channels rather than taking a more holistic view on the success of the business that accounts for our ability to deliver truly exceptional customer experiences.

CHRIS
As a Retail community, we have accelerated dramatically these past twelve months to meet rising consumer demands. We have witnessed a shift towards direct-to-consumer business models as brands attempt to drive and shift customer preferences before the search battle plays out on browsers. We are also seeing an increased focus on loyalty, with Retailers securing customer allegiances by driving connected experiences across digital and physical channels. All of these efforts stem from a solid bedrock of data and the recognition that customers are willing to trade information in exchange for considered personalisation. We’ve been working closely with Retailers to look more closely at content consumption, cart abandonment, profile data and ancillary consumer signals to better understand the entire customer lifecycle. From here, Retailers have a solid foundation for building brand affinity and embedding emotions to reduce churn and curate a community of loyal customers.

PAUL {moderator}
Our lived experience of the pandemic has been greater oversight of and restrictions on human movement. Social interactions and commercial transactions have become defined by distance to the extent that we have learned a certain discomfort for proximity. The obvious consequence of these restrictions was a swift shift to digital channels and accelerated growth in the maturity of e-commerce. Beyond that, what are the most salient changes in consumer behaviour that you have observed this year?

JASON
One of the most pronounced shifts in consumer behaviour has been the steep demand for low and no-touch fulfilment as an extension of existing click and collect options, and in our particular case, the acceleration of Telehealth services. Speaking more broadly, the resilience of existing supply and fulfilment models has been drawn into consideration as we accelerate towards a contactless Retail environment. The rise in fear-based purchasing and hoarding behaviour was particularly pronounced in Australia on a global scale and affected our ability to provide equitable access to products across our wider network. In response, we adopted a more active role triaging customers to the most appropriate delivery channels, a challenging undertaking given the mechanics underwriting our franchise model.

MIKE
The extreme conditions of the pandemic shuffled consumers back into the home, providing retailers and customers alike with a rare opportunity to reassess their relationship. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a constant dialogue on translating face-to-face encounters in a digital setting. This conversation is driving towards creating exercises in experience; we are striving to establish an emotional connection between consumers and our brand in a virtual environment, to create vehicles for experiencing products online. Consumers are reaching for connection and brands need to respond by delivering authentic, empathetic experiences.

PAUL {moderator}
Timing is everything. What are some of the key, real-time indicators you rely on to inform decisions around driving content and offers to customers?

CHRIS
In the context of propelling the customer down the path to purchase, we have seen that Retailers who are empowered to respond to cart abandonment triggers in near real time have drastically improved conversion rates. Cart abandonment is undeniably one of the most powerful and accessible customer signals that Retailers can leverage. Given that the average value order on abandoned carts outweighs traditional online orders by approximately 45 percent, there is a real opportunity to reengage customers with a comprehensive omnichannel offering, communicating information on inventory or price fluctuations across relevant channels.

MIKE
Beyond conversion, the value of real-time communications has been made abundantly clear to us this year in the fulfilment stage of the customer’s journey. Customer experience in fulfilment is directly informed by transparent communication. There are enormous opportunities to secure customer allegiances and improve retention not only be offering diverse fulfilment options, but by providing timely and accurate information on delivery timelines. Real-time visibility over your supply pipeline provides you with indispensable signals and opportunities to communicate with your customers at this stage of their journey with your brand.

JASON
It’s important for Retailers to distinguish real-time from relevance, to recognise that immediacy is no guarantee of effectiveness. There are dangers for brands that profile their customers too aggressively. We should aspire to build trust through targeted communications rather than erode it by being overly familiar or intrusive without context. By way of example, our customers are not always in the right mental or emotional state to condense content immediately after making a purchase. But information providing further context around the products they have purchased can be extremely relevant and valuable when timed effectively in the days following purchase.

PAUL {moderator}
What role does experience play in fostering customer loyalty?

MIKE
Customer experience is everything in loyalty. Consumers have forfeited their data in exchange for rewarding experiences, but a narrow focus on gamifying transactions rarely satisfies these expectations. In many instances, points-based reward tiers represent a shallow, transactional approach with few short term benefits and no long-term value for the customer or business. The notable exception is the Airlines industry, where the audience’s receptiveness to elite status alongside vast redemption potential informs the success of the model. But Retailers should not suffer under the illusion that their audience will respond to the same triggers. We are currently on a journey to better understand what loyalty means to us, to recognise the emotional connection consumers have to our brand and to deliver content and experiences that resonate to retain customers in our ecosystem.

CHRIS
While data delivered experiences are an opportunity to build trust, they are also a highly versatile mechanism from an operational and supply perspective. A scalable, skewed rewards system can be leveraged to clear stock without resorting to discount strategies, and charitable donation options further reflect your brands commitment to reflecting and supporting the values espoused by your customers. Any Retailers that have implemented a points-based loyalty model should reassess how granular and responsive their system is to consumer and business needs alike.

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CONCLUSION
The nation’s Retail community has responded emphatically to challenges flowing from the pandemic. Retailers have evolved at a frenetic pass to improve their responsiveness and engage with customer’s on their terms. The capability to deliver thoughtful, rewarding experiences is firmly rooted in data capability. Consumer expectations for personalisation can only be reached by forming and acting upon a unified view of the customer’s journey.

Oracle continues to work with Retailers to map these journeys and build a deeper understanding of customer lifecycles. It is incumbent on Retailers to consider the steps they must take and the partnerships they can pursuit to deliver truly responsive and rewarding customer experiences in the year ahead.

PERSONALISED RETAIL: PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCE

To download this Insights Piece as a printable .PDF, click here.
To watch the full Panel Discussion, click here.
To learn more about how to deliver hyperpersonalisation, click here.

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INTRODUCTION
Experience is emerging as a critical differentiator in personalised retail. Consumers are moving beyond transactional commerce and aligning with brands that they connect with on a more emotive level. The challenge for Retailers is establishing this level of authenticity in an environment that remains fractured between physical and digital.

We convened a virtual panel to hear how Angus McDonald, Chief Executive, BBQ Galore, Shane Lenton, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Cue Clothing, and Scott Treller, Executive General Manager, SAP Customer Experience are moving towards a unified view of customers. Moderated by Paul Waddy, CEO, The Horse, their conversation identified some of the key challenges and opportunities of omnichannel experience. We are sharing some of the salient insights from this executive conversation with you today.

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PAUL {moderator}
We have accelerated rapidly down the path from analogue to digital Retail. Traditional levers, such as product range, and pace, precision and flexibility in fulfilment options have been widely implemented and so muted as competitive differentiators. To effectively ignite the interest of consumers and propel them down the path to purchase, Retailers need an e-commerce engine that responds personally and empathetically to customer needs. How can Retailers build this level of responsiveness across physical and digital environments?

ANGUS
It’s important to recognise that we live and operate in a borderless Retail world. We have witnessed a real shift in the maturity of e-commerce over the last twelve months, evinced by significant growth in online as a percentage share of overall Retail sales. As e-commerce builds momentum, the challenge for traditional Retailers becomes leveraging the physical footprint as a site of advantage. There is growing recognition of the tremendous potential a physical presence holds for delivering rich customer experiences. But these physical, human experiences hinge on a more fundamental omnichannel position: that the sum is greater than the parts. E-commerce was born as a function of marketing, and the dissonance that customers experience can often be traced to gaps in business integration. It is essential that Retailers recognise the power of a single view of the customer, appreciating that this view is contingent on facilitating the flow of information across the organisation.

SHANE
E-commerce is all about identifying moments where we can push recommendations based on behaviour, how we can leverage data to inform a whole gamut of activities at relevant stages of the customer’s digital journey. But this level of personalisation and precision has historically been foreign to physical environments. When we speak of unified commerce, we are talking about taking a single-view of customers across channels. The challenge is translating the deep consumer knowledge we use to tailor digital experiences into a physical environment. We need to think more deeply about the information dialogue between online and brick-and-mortar; how we can empower staff with real-time, consumer insights to deliver personalised in-store experiences, and how we can capture in-store information to continue a conversation with customers in a digital setting.

SCOTT
We sometimes fall into the trap of viewing online Retail as a form of cannibalisation. But once we adopt a more holistic view, we see that it’s all about building a unified view of the customer. Practically, you can’t redesign your entire physical store for every customer that comes through in the same way you can for a digital environment. But there are tremendous opportunities to augment in-store experiences with the same real-time insights that drive personalisation in online environments. The challenge for Retailers is to recognise the opportunity that a physical footprints represents for creating highly personalised experiences.

PAUL
Everyone is looking for connectivity, and Retailers cannot lose this opportunity to reimagine how they resonate with customers. This is a time for retailers to be braver, to think deeply about creating an emotional tie through e-commerce. So how do we create a connection that not only attracts, but retains customers?

SCOTT
We often hear claims that brick-and-mortar presents unrivalled opportunities for connection based on the power of the human touch.  But in theory, creating a lasting emotional connection is more achievable from a digital angle. When a person walks through the door of your store, they are not followed by all the data points that otherwise accompany them on a digital journey. All they carry is an expectation of the brand that has been informed by their digital experiences. So the challenge for Retailers when it comes to creating a connection with customers is how do we meet these expectations? We need to empower staff with the information to deliver informed experiences.

SHANE
We begin by identifying the information that is lost when the customer leaves the store. There is so much depth to the research piece that happen in-store, troves of information that are being forfeited instead of captured. Consider that there is no equivalent of a wishlist in a physical setting, no way to track the consumer’s interest in related products or adjacent shelf items, and no way to record what inhibited the purchase or why the cart was abandoned. Now consider how we could not only bridge this information gap, but fill the void with a personal and meaningful interaction. Think of the potential of e-receipts, not just as a wishlist or ledger, but as a vehicle for a personalised and ongoing dialogue between the customer and the in-store staff around the products that interested them and when inventory or prices may change. If we capture information, we can create a dialogue, and if we create a dialogue, we will retain customers.

PAUL
It’s easier to create loyalty and drive business results if you remember that customers are not statistics. The ongoing pandemic has further demonstrated the dangers of business silos and relying on a fragmented view of customers. It is essential that Retailers gain a wholistic picture of consumers, that they look beyond their own data and implement a strategy that is driven by numbers, not a narrow-focussed impression of these numbers. How can Retailers build this capability?

ANGUS
There is a hygiene level when it comes to technology and data, a baseline of proficiency and functionality that Retailers must meet. We must continually invest in our digital capability to keep pace and remain in consumer consideration as this baseline rises. But technology only goes so far – it can help you find an audience, but it can’t create the message. It is vital to recognise that the most powerful brands alive are increasingly tribal, inspiring a more emotive following than others have in the past. While the historical levers of differentiation were incredibly rational, now people are motivated by brands they can align with on a deeper level. To resonate in this way, Retailers need to have structures in place that empower creative thinking. We need to approach challenges on their merits rather than retrospectively fitting the outcomes that our current technology accommodates.

SCOTT
We can only truly know our customers if they trust us. Retailers should aspire to build trust with personalisation rather than erode it by being overly familiar without context. We are custodians of data that customers own, and we need to reflect this ownership by implementing robust, consent-driven capabilities. Loyalty and retention have shifted away from reward programmes towards creating intimate experiences at scale. Strong, consensual data practices are the bedrock for creating authentic consumer experiences. Without it, your commerce infrastructure is vulnerable and your potential for knowing your customers is limited.

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CONCLUSION
The pandemic heralded great change and uncertainty for the nation’s Retail community. In many ways, the extreme conditions of the pandemic provided consumers and retailers alike with a rare opportunity to reassess their relationship. In response to the ambiguity and chaos, Retailers found opportunities to reflect on the role that consumer experience will play in the sector moving forward. While many challenges lay ahead, there are real opportunities to elevate and improve the ways we connect with consumers in a meaningful manner. Connect Media and SAP will continue to connect Retailers with the aim of furthering this dialogue, combating shared challenges and enlivening collective opportunities.