As big data, cloud-based platforms and wearables infiltrate the ecommerce space, the pressure is on retailers to focus on what really makes the customer experience simple, seamless and relevant.
Speaking at the Online Retailer and Ecommerce Expo in Sydney, three experts discussed the challenges facing the retail industry in a digital age, as well as what really drives a cohesive end-to-end customer journey.
"While brands are having a customer journey, at Salesforce we're trying to integrate the same journeys as well," Salesforce head of product marketing, Derek Laney, said. "It's the intersection between these things that is really getting interesting with technologies."
From a technology perspective, Melbourne IT Group chief sales officer, Cath Hogson-Croker, predicted migrating data and keeping that data flow for its customers would be one of the biggest challenges going forward. One of the biggest challenges, she said, is ensuring the customer experience is end-to-end.
"Integrating the data and customer view is one of our biggest challenges as a business," she said. "We also see that with many of our customers who are moving in the online space, and are working in social in particular."
Australia Post head of ecommerce business, Marc Gauci, claimed partnership is what really counts when it comes to keeping business seamless in the digital age.
"The key thing we're finding is that merchants and retailers want to partner with us, as opposed to just buying our service," he said. "This also highlights how selecting the right freight company from the side of the inventory value chain and the e-commerce chain is absolutely important. Having the knowledge of every stage is critical to gaining and keeping that customer."
Creating a cohesive and seamless experience
In a recent study Salesforce study, The State of Marketing 2015, marketers were asked about how they created the customer journey and ways technology make the process easier.
"Respondents put the mobile application first and said that's the one thing that is helping them create this cohesion across the physical and digital space," Laney said. "The second thing was CRM, and the third was analytics. Investment in those three key areas is where we're seeing our customers bridge that gap to create a cohesive customer journey."
For Hogson-Croker, one of the elements getting the way of seamless and cohesive customer journeys is having too much choice.
"It's becoming increasingly difficult to make the right choice," she said. "So keeping it simple, and being very defined and focused from a customer perspective is the most important thing. It's something that gets lost when you're trying to do so much. You get caught in the day-to-day and then you lose focus on what you're trying to achieve and how to keep focus in driving those relationships across those mediums.
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