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Why is integration critical?

Customer experience relies on a good integration

When retailers take a microscopic approach to technology, or when technology sales are excellent at selling specific products, clients can suffer from an intricate assembly of systems. The result is often a strange and disconnected experience.

Choose the right technology

It is increasingly difficult to choose the right technology to solve a business problem. In the current market space, there is too many software to select. From a static perspective, new technologies appear on the market far too fast to get a good sense of which will be useful for what purpose and how long it will last.

Assuming that a brand selects the correct set of technologies, and create a competitive advantage by deploying one of each, how will these technologies interact? What customer experience will this create? Unfortunately, it is too late to ask the question after you have selected a set of solutions. The first question brand must ask, what is the customer experience going be and how can technology play a role in achieving this goal.

Customer & shop assistant journey

As brands want to offer more services and collect more data, the checkout process can become tedious and complicated. Shop assistant may get lost, as more pieces of equipment are required to process single payment, loyalty, promotion transaction and so forth. This confusion will no doubt have an impact on the client, creating frustration, delays, and an overall bad experience.

The more systems brands have, the more options are required, leading to more training of shop assistants. However, brands rarely invest enough hours in training. During the deployment phase of a new initiative, the first few pilot stores are well trained, with follow-up. In the roll-out phase, a quick communication will explain the general principal. At that point, it is rare that the on-boarding training plan is up to date with the new system. So new shop assistant will learn on the job, and each generation will have a weaker understanding of the systems and processes.

Friction, suggestions, and choice

In Retail, every interaction with a potential customer is a chance to lose business, them entering the store, browsing through products, selecting or ordering items, queue, check-out, pay and so forth. Friction will increase the churn of any customer journey step. Technology only makes sense if it removes friction, eliminates steps from the client's walk-through and shortens it. Stacking technology side by side will never achieve these goals, only integrated technology will.

With reward programs getting increasingly sophisticated, smart technology can give suggestion to customers on how to optimize their rewards. This can significantly improve the success of a reward system, without depending on shop assistant. Today, it is possible to continuously change the reward system, even personalize it, without the need for constant retraining. These outcomes are only possible with integration between the reward systems, social platforms and transaction platform.

Good integration can also offer more choices to customers. If the offer is the same online/offline, and the rewards are the same, then it is up to the shopper to choose. Brands whose offers are not the same and some product or services are not available on some channels; pushing clients to search and find the right place and time to get these bargains. It is easy to create frustration this way and lose sales. Offering choices to customers, leads to more engagement, as they make an active decision. This is better than trying to force consumers to purchase, by sending triggers through various marketing channels.

Simplicity is difficult to achieve

Brands have to satisfy customers who are more and more demanding, in highly complex environments. Simplicity is difficult to achieve, but it must be the goal for the client's experience. No matter how many systems are running in the background, they must hide to support a clear and straightforward customer path.

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