The hackneyed phrase “the customer is always right” will be getting a new airing in 2016, as retailers make customer-centric personalization their top priority. Customer centricity will be the must-have differentiator for retailers and it will become much more targeted in order to better understand and delight customers.
There has been a lot of hype around customer centricity in many different industries, but in retail it goes to the heart of the business. Differentiating by price or assortment is no longer enough to grow your business. Retailers that embrace customer centricity – by understanding what customers want or need, and organize their companies to deliver this - are the ones which will win.
The journey toward omni-channel is instrumental in this endeavour. Customers want to have a seamless experience with a chosen retailer, either in-store on online, so retailers’ processes must link up in order to offer this. If an online service crashes, no amount of free delivery will make up for it.
Data is critical to customer centricity; retailers will need to tap into internal information, customer preferences, social media and data from Internet of Things devices in order to learn more about their customers’ needs and desires.
Other new customer-centric initiatives for 2016 include things like easy sign-up, RFID-tagged loyalty cards, which send customers personalized rewards over their mobile phones when they are in the store.
Any kind of customer-centric initiative needs to be driven by new technology. Retailers need process orchestration and connectivity to make each new initiative work. All too often existing technology either cannot deal with the volumes required, or it cannot adapt to power these new customer-centric initiatives soon enough.
Differentiation means finding out what the customer wants and figuring out the best way to deliver it. You then need to bring in the right technology infrastructure to make sure you can support the front end- taking the order- as well as the back end - delivering the order. Your products will delight your customers only if they can find them in stock, order them easily and get them delivered where and when they want.
The customer is – still – always right. And will be even more so in 2016.