Six simple tips for local businesses to keep up with global retailers (including how to start!)

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San Jose, United States

Tasked with helping well-known brands reinvent their customer experiences, Chris Bosco is the managing director for global digital commerce at Accenture, a multinational management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company.

Speaking at SuiteWorld 2015 in San Jose yesterday, Bosco identified several threats and opportunities facing retailers. Here’s what you need to know…

Get creative with delivery options
The first trend Bosco identified was that retailers are upping the ante when it comes to delivery, but that doesn’t necessarily mean speed is the most important thing for consumers.

“The key that we have found is actually it’s not so much [demand for] same day delivery, it’s that customers want to be able to define delivery on their terms. They want to be able to say ‘I want it on the same day, two days later, three days later. I don’t want the cable-type model where I’m there between 12 and 5pm and I’ve got to wait around for them,” he said.

This means retailers must have an understanding of their inventory levels and availability (that is also visible to the consumer), as well as providing varied delivery and click and collect options.

Bring the digital experience into the store
Bosco used the example of digital price placards that were once paper to emphasize how elements of the digital world are appearing in retail. “Anybody that worked in retail knows the pain of having to change those out every time there is a price change. Instead you are seeing some companies come up with digital placards, with the ability to put the price on directly in front of the customer and be able to do that universally.” This means that price discounts can be pushed out to everyone at the same time and that it matches your online pricing.

Another example is to have tablets with online ratings, reviews or social media mentions at the point of purchase to influence buying decisions.

Embrace changes to payment technology
Consumer desire to be able to pay for goods the way they want when they want, be it Apple Pay or PayPal, will drive change in the payments area Bosco said.

Break down silos
One of the biggest problems businesses face is the silos within in the organisation, for example, “the fact that retail is different to digital” Bosco said.

“A lot of companies believe they way to deal with that is to actually just create some kind of universal council or something else to talk more to each other about it. But the real truth of the matter is you’ve got to really change the way your customer view is and you’ve got to look at it from the customers’ perspective. What do they want? How are they going to interact with you? What do they value? And if you’re doing it in silos it’s very difficult.”

Get a single view of the customer
It is important to bring together different information points to get a single view of your customer to understand where and how the customer has interacted with you and what the value of that customer is. Take for example the customer who has just had a frustrating experience over the phone with a helpline that comes into a store ready to vent their anger at the nearest member of staff. With a system that alerted them to that fact and provided details of the customer’s complaint, they could deal with the problem more efficiently. Bosco warned “getting that universal customer view is so difficult with such disparate systems.”

Identify a place to start
“Most companies get really overwhelmed by the omnichannel discussion, they think they have to bring it all to bear at one time, and it just really is a difficult thing to challenge,” Bosco said.

By identifying what changes need to be made is a daunting task. Outside of seeking external help from an consultancy company, earlier in the day NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson offered this advice to retailers looking to change what they do: hire an entirely separate group to solve a problem. Essentially create a small start-up within your company that knows the business to execute change.

But Nelson did offer a word of warning to anyone preparing to put their hand up to “disrupt” their own company.

“Having been involved in larger companies I was always the guy in the start-up within the larger business.  The interesting thing about being that, when you’re that small business in the larger company, the larger company does try to kill you because you are the foreign body, you’re the antibody, you’re the guy getting all the love, you’re getting all the money yet they are generating all the revenue. It’s really interesting battle in companies. How do you innovate while perhaps having something else as the cash cow?”

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