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Omnichannel: the key to retail success?

Author: Infomentum

Author: Vikram Setia

No industry has seen the effects of digital disruption hit hard quite as publicly as the retail sector.

Shock headlines detail the decline of footfall, with indignant images of boarded up stores and empty high streets. Pre-Christmas forecasts preached that the most successful holiday retailers would be those offering the optimum online shopping experience.

But aside from the scare-mongering surrounding physical stores, the key focus for retailers has remained steadfastly the same; how to offer the best customer experience? There are key challenges the industry can address today to keep up with changing consumer demand.

Business Mistelligence?

You have key decisions to make – from your store strategy, to new growth areas and how to engage online for loyalty – and you need to make an informed decision. You turn to your data to inform your decision, right? That’s not the case for many retailers who are struggling to gain insights from the masses of data available to them. Taking control of your data and having the power to display it in ways which are easily digestible allows you to turn your big data into rich data – information that has the power of context.

Lack of loyalty

We all have more information at our fingertips than was even imaginable 20 years ago. Great for consumers, who are more empowered than ever before. But for retailers, this makes for a fickle customer. Customer loyalty is at an all-time low, with their demands constantly increasing. Retailers offering added value to their customers above and beyond their competitors can take share from anyone who falls short.

The bricks-and-mortar story

It’s true that physical stores are seeing a downturn in the number of customers they serve – but there is no doubt the shop has a place for many retailers. Giving customers the maximum amount of convenience is key in our fast-paced, digital world. Retailers who are able to use digital technology to enhance the instore experience, and give the customer the impression that physical and digital have merged, are onto a compelling experience which will be hard to beat.

Much of this comes down to offering something the customer really wants. The consistent theme is the omnichannel experience.

The omnichannel enigma

You know the story as both a retailer and a consumer yourself; customers expect the same experience, no matter the channel. Now, more than ever, there is a plethora of channels for a customer to contact and interact with your brand. Retailers that can offer a holistic experience across every touchpoint of the customer’s journey will have the advantage.

The key is in removing silos. If each department and each employee has access to the same customer information, it will have a hugely positive reflection on the customer’s experience.

It’s time to stop the shock headlines and look at the challenges for the opportunities that they present. By addressing these challenges today, retailers can set themselves up for success tomorrow. Why now? Because today, your customer is demanding. Tomorrow, they will expect even more.

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Search is your online sales assistant

Author: Infomentum

Author: Natalia Bazanova

Whether you have physical shops or not, your website is considered another shopfront, and customers will treat it that way. If you can't find something in a shop, you ask a sales assistant. But what about if you can’t find something on a businesses website? There's often no online shop assistant to ask for help. That's where your customers will turn to a powerful search function to find out what they need from you.

But what if your search function doesn’t return relevant results? Well, in short, your customers will go elsewhere. Most likely, straight to your competition.

Oracle’s WebCenter Sites gives the simplicity and flexibility to manage complex, yet visually attractive, responsive websites. By combining WebCenter Sites with the power of Solr open-source search engine, we are able to deliver fast and information rich websites for our customers.

The additional functionality that Solr brings to Sites is the ability to offer the ‘Google’ style search that customers of today have become so accustomed to.

Using the Solr integration, we are able to enhance our customer’s web search results with various filters and facets, enabling web users to more easily drill down to the most relevant areas to them. It allows multi-lingual support; a bonus for a global website like BAE Systems which is hosted in many languages worldwide.

The Prince's Trust's online course search The Prince's Trust's online course search

Solr’s geo-spatial search qualities also allow search results to incorporate location data. For The Prince’s Trust, this means their website is able to display relevant courses to website users depending on where in the UK they are based.

Surprisingly, many modern websites still cannot accommodate spelling mistakes, a basic expectation of many website users. Solr search engine makes spelling suggestions, as well as fuzzy matches, whereby the search function will offer suggestions such as ‘did you mean this…?’ to find the most relevant content quickly, even if there is no exact match for the keywords used.

Any changes to page content are immediately reflected in search results and the relevancy
of the result documents. This enables marketing teams to make updates without website users seeing any disconnect in the search results. They are able to dynamically build filters and facets.

The importance of search can often be overlooked when creating a website. Remember – if your website is your storefront, then search can be your sales assistant. Both The Prince’s Trust and BAE Systems are benefiting from this enriched search functionality; and so are their customers.

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