News Feature | March 3, 2015

What Your Merchant IT Clients Need To Keep Up With Demand For The Best Customer Experience

By Ally Kutz, contributing writer

What Your Merchant IT Clients Need To Keep Up With Demand For The Best Customer Experience

Organization, technology, and metrics are the top three ways retailers plan to stay competitive, according to the study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Demandware, “Digitizing the Store -- Building the Business Case for a Unified Commerce Platform --Optimize the Consumer Experience.” In his article on the NRF website, Tom Litchford writes, “Connected consumers dictate and control the terms of engagement with retailers. In response, retail CIOs across the world are taking a fresh look at the elements that have historically powered these systems separately to figure out how to build an all-in-one commerce platform.”

Litchfield explains, from an organizational standpoint, the integration of IT with other departments will play a major role. Regarding technology, many of your merchant clients are looking to refresh their e-commerce programs as well as in-store POS (point of sale) systems. In addition, 80 percent of retail CIOs surveyed have or will deploy mobile devices for their associates in the next three years. Litchfield also points out the study can be a baseline as your clients begin to gather data and measure the value of their initiatives.

As the study’s title suggests, the overarching theme to the evolution taking place in retail is “Optimizing the Consumer Experience.”

Randy Clark. SVP of marketing for Vantiv, tells Business Solutions this impacts the solutions VARs and managed services providers (MSPs) can sell. “We’ve moved from an era of where the point of sale (POS) manages ordering, payments, inventory, and reporting to an era of better consumer experiences through enabling digital commerce.”

“Today’s shoppers want to interact with retailers anytime, want more personalized shopping experiences, consistent experiences across channels, and to self-serve in store,” he says.

Resellers who can help retailers meet these new shopper expectations while simultaneously satisfying the needs of the merchant to attract and retain customers will be most successful … It’s not about software, technology or developer tools. It’s about helping merchants grow their businesses by better servicing and engaging their customers at the point of sale, whether that is at a traditional POS or in-store remote mobile payment. We’re in the business of enabling better relationships and experiences.”

Enhancing customer experience also was a theme at the NRF Big Show over the past few years. In his presentation this year, Eric Feinberg, senior director of product strategy at ForeSee by Answers, said, “2015 will be all about the needs and rise of the multichannel customer.” He said a trend this year will be customers looking for a “friend in the aisle” and more engagement with associates.

In an interview for a BSM webinar, Randy Roe, founder and president of Retail Technology Services in Seattle, WA, says POS solutions play a major role in customer experience. “It’s the customer’s last experience before they leave the store. Merchants don’t want the last touch point to be a negative experience.”

Roe advises retail VARs to ask their clients directed questions to find out what their desired outcomes are: “Align tech with that. It will be a much more meaningful solution.”