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Why you need to create a retail ecosystem for the future

In a post-coronavirus world, customers who have become so accustomed to shopping online for months on end will have a new view of physical stores. After all, many will have learnt how to survive without entering shops for months, so perhaps their needs and expectations from bricks-and-mortar retail will be even higher than before.

If we look back at what the industry was like pre-coronavirus, smart retailers already realised that they needed to create an exceptional in-store experience and that customers don’t view retail as being ‘online’ or ‘offline’ – the two channels are part of the same ecosystem. 

One great Aussie example is Supercheap Auto, which gives customers a seamless experience between its physical and digital stores. The business goes beyond just selling products off the shelf, it also offers in-store services, education and community.

Online, customers receive a personalised experience with recommendations and DIY video tutorials. The brand is also on several social media platforms where passionate customers can connect and share photos of their projects with each other.

Meanwhile, Supercheap’s physical stores offer click-and-collect with a 30-minute lead time, as well as a click-and-fit, where the retailer fits customers’ purchases for them. Its wide range of other car services include battery changing, oil top-ups, fuel treatments, nitrogen inflation and more. 

Beauty retail giant Mecca also offers its customers an exceptional experience both in-store and online. In its bricks-and-mortar stores, ‘beauty junkies’ can immerse themselves in its wide range of curated product, experiment with make-up at one of its play tables or sign up for either a 15-minute or two-hour masterclass. Mecca’s staff also play a key role in guiding and advising customers. Customers can also return and exchange online products in-store.

Online, Mecca aims to offer an easy buying experience for the customer, as well as entertainment and education through blogs, video tutorials and interviews with high-profile personalities such as make-up artists, style aficionados and influencers. Mecca has also just launched virtual services, where customers can book a complimentary appointment via FaceTime with one of the retailer’s consultants to discuss their make-up and skincare needs.

How to make it happen

While businesses may want to offer customers a seamless experience between on- and offline, there’s a lot of work that needs to go on behind-the-scenes to manage inventory and stock. 

This is where unified commerce comes in. It’s a centralised, real-time platform that helps to connect all the customer engagement points in your business. It combines e-commerce with m-commerce, order fulfilment, inventory management, point of sale capabilities and more. A retailer’s whole enterprise is in the same spot and in sync – it’s distribution centres, stores, e-commerce sites and headquarters – so fewer errors are made, potentially saving the business money in the long run.

Retailers also get a 360-degree view of their customers, whether they’re window shopping online, signing up for a loyalty program in-store or completing the purchase on their mobile device.

In a post-coronavirus world, unified commerce can help retailers prepare for the customers of the future. 

To learn more about unified commerce technology, visit LS Retail.

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