Does Your Retail Sales Software Meet Customer Expectations?
Before driving 30 minutes to the shopping center to buy those new shoes you saw, it makes sense to check online to see if they have your size. It’s a reasonable customer expectation, but one that often happens to require advanced retail sales software.
Offering real-time, constantly updated online information about inventory presents a considerable challenge for any retailer, one that involves significant technology and human resources. How much is it worth to provide this data to customers?
According to a new survey of retail decision-makers, only 32 percent of retailers currently offer customer services like real-time store inventory information online and in-store pickup for online purchases. Yet most shoppers (71 percent) expect to be able to view in-store inventory online, according to the survey, and 50 percent expect the option to buy online and pick up their purchase at a physical store.
Clearly, many retailers are having difficulty meeting their customers’ expectations; their capabilities may be limited by organizational structure, employee training or retail sales software. Many retailers still have separate channels for online, mobile and offline sales data, according to the survey findings, and this hinders their ability to provide real-time inventory information. In addition, 40 percent of respondents note that sales associates need additional training to work in such a streamlined, single-channel environment.
Mid-market retailers should conduct a cost-benefits analysis before they go looking for technology to bridge these gaps between what customers expect and what they are capable of delivering. Customers may now expect to review store inventory online, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you how important it is. What’s at stake from a financial standpoint? How much business do you stand to gain or lose from this aspect of your business?
Many businesses aren’t able to make a good decision in this area because they lack access to that kind of complex data. According to the survey, 40 percent of retailers report having difficulty integrating their back office across all channels. The problem often is that businesses are using retail sales software products that don’t talk to each other properly.
Ideally, your point of sale software, e-commerce platform, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools will function smoothly as an integrated end-to-end solution. Such a system closes technology gaps so that you don’t have to fight with your system to derive business insights, and makes it easier to meet customer technology expectations.
There are many reasons why retailers don’t have an end-to-end system. They may be trying to use an old ERP system and a new CRM system, and fear that making the necessary upgrades would be more costly than they are in reality. But many retailers may also underestimate the business benefits of an integrated system.
In retail, technology gaps are also risky, since retailers store and use customer financial data. Poorly integrated systems invite security breaches, in which customer data is stolen and used illegally. It’s crucial for retailers to protect consumers from identity theft and other risks when they’re shopping at their stores.
From risk management and business strategy perspectives, integrating retail sales software makes good sense in that it closes gaps and facilitates business intelligence. And that end-to-end perspective is necessary when you’re making decisions about whether or not to provide customers with online access to store inventory data.
See first-hand how our solutions deliver retail agility and performance while protecting customer information. Schedule a no-obligation free demo of ArcherPoint’s retail sales software solutions.
Author: Tina Terrezza, Business Development Manager at ArcherPoint