The three biggest areas of retailers' planned use of technology tools in the next 12 to 24 months include advanced real-time in-store and web analytics (70%), cross-channel product information and content management (53%), and single operational and merchandising data across all channels (49%), according to a study by Aberdeen Group.
The benchmark study, '21st Century Retailer: Managing Customers, Merchandise & Data', found that at least 70% of retailers planned multi-channel solution deployments to take place in the SMB (small/medium business) and MME (mid-market enterprise) retail segment.
Better approach to CRM
According to Sahir Anand, retail research analyst and co-author of the study, "Retailers want a better approach toward integrated customer relationships and revenue management, as 47% of those surveyed do not use CRM data in any system."
But what Anand finds more concerning is that nearly 46% surveyed either don't measure any form of multi-channel information, or do so only on an ad-hoc basis. The report notes that this information can directly help retailers in improving their strategic decisions for greater efficiencies in multi-channel sales and operations.
Customer expectations of seamless purchase and delivery options across channels are driving 67% of retailers to improve their sales strategies. In response, 69% of retailers are working to create a single brand identity across all channels, thereby minimising the distinction between shopping preferences.
Study co-author John Lovett, a B2C e-commerce analyst, explained: "66% of best-in-class retailers go beyond establishing a single brand identity across their delivery channels by prioritising customers' ability to purchase, take delivery, or return a product through the channel of their choice."
The report also illustrates that centralised databases and distributed information and order management systems facilitate these capabilities and contribute to a seamless customer experience. Currently, 63% of best-in-class retailers use centralised databases and 57% use distributed order management systems.