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When my son’s school transitioned to remote learning last year, he needed his own laptop fast. I ordered a laptop online for same-day curbside pickup. When I arrived at the store, a sales rep met me at my car. They asked if he also needed a laptop sleeve to protect the device – good thinking as my son is, well, a teenager. In a single retail experience that was a little under two hours, we had everything he needed to ace his virtual classes.

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The pandemic has radically and fundamentally changed the way we all discover, browse, shop, and buy. Before the pandemic, we saw a trend toward enhanced retail experiences that went beyond shopping, like free yoga classes and juice bars in stores. Today, there’s a new definition for superior customer experience (CX) and loyalty. Retailers need to get the fundamentals right – like optimizing inventory and offering contactless payment options – and layer on services that offer convenience and flexibility.

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In a recent Salesforce-sponsored study by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, we found that 82% of retailers say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. Let’s look at the research to see how retailers are strengthening their CX strategies.

82% of retailers say improving the customer experience is their top priority.

CX is everyone’s responsibility

Getting CX right is significantly more important for Retail than for all other industries combined.

Now more than ever, customers expect personalized and connected experiences, no matter how or where they shop. They also expect safety and convenience – whether buying online for delivery or browsing in-store at a safe distance.

To meet expectations, retailers must recognize that CX is everyone’s responsibility – not just those in customer-facing roles. Behind-the-scenes operations impact CX just as much as interactions with store associates and customer service agents. Website design and development teams must create intuitive user interfaces that make shopping and checkout easy and fast. Supply chain managers must flawlessly fulfill inventory listed as promised on an ecommerce site.

CX is everyone’s responsibility – not just those in customer-facing roles. Behind-the-scenes operations impact CX just as much as interactions with store associates and customer service agents.

Teams must work together to improve CX. They need access to the same data – in a timely manner – to make business decisions. For example, supply chain managers can ramp up coordination with suppliers when they’re armed with data on popular new products and dwindling inventory – and provide visibility to effectively fulfill orders. Data insights also reveal how well vendors, distributors, and store locations perform against each other and competitors.

Retailers are revamping their data strategies

Retail executives know that they need to adopt a culture of data to get everyone on the same page. This is an opportunity to develop a 360-degree view of the customer by harnessing and operationalizing consumer, product, and inventory data.

A customer relationship management (CRM) platform can help retailers connect the ecosystem to create a single source of truth for data. The 360-degree view delivers the necessary insights to the right teams at the right times. Retailers can then use predictive analytics to better understand customer behavior, anticipate future buying trends, and introduce new products and services based on new needs.

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Retailers are investing in cross-channel communications

Shoppers today use an average of nine different touch points to interact with brands. Much of their time spent is away from a brand’s owned platforms – on social media and messenger apps – which Salesforce refers to as ” shopping at the edge.”

It’s no surprise that 55% of retail executives report that they plan to expand customer communications across channels at greater frequency. These communications often include messaging about products, promotions, and other relevant information.

Retailers need to get the fundamentals right – like optimizing inventory and offering contactless payment options – and layer on services that offer convenience and flexibility.

Mobile is also a high priority. Our Q1 2021 Shopping Index data shows that 69% of all online shopping traffic comes from a mobile device, and 57% of all online shopping transactions come from mobile. Seventy-one percent of retailers say they are highly likely to invest in mobile transaction capabilities and customer apps over the next two years.

Integrating diverse data types with a CRM platform enables retailers to enhance CX across devices and channels. Operationalizing data – and infusing intelligence – helps retailers personalize customer engagement based on shopping preferences, and creates new selling opportunities.

71% of retailers say they are highly likely to invest in mobile transaction capabilities and customer apps over the next two years.

Improve your retail experience

If you’re one of the 82% of retailers focused on improving CX, improving your data strategy with a 360-degree view is essential. It can help you to deliver seamless and personalized experiences across the growing number of physical and digital touchpoints customers regularly traverse.

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