In this guest post, Paula Da Silva (pictured below), senior vice president of aales at CitiXsys, discusses how businesses should leverage cloud commerce, e-commerce and m-commerce in the retail sphere.
If businesses want to get ahead of their competitors, it is essential that they leverage the value of three types of commerce: cloud commerce, mobile commerce (m-commerce) and e-commerce. With shopping journeys increasingly taking place across multiple channels – and shoppers expecting this journey to be seamless and convenient – aligning and integrating your digital commerce strategies is a vital step forward. These three areas will accommodate not only the growth of your store’s digital and physical footprint, but also the growth of your customer base and their shopping basket size.
Using e-commerce in an omnichannel world
The growing number of customers using more than one platform to shop means that businesses are able to use e-commerce not only online, but also in-store. Online, e-commerce can be used to develop a visually appealing website that reflects the values of a brand, as well as to creating user experiences that are quick, easy and integrate other value-adds such as recommendations and online discount codes. This is done through the provision of product information that shoppers need to make decisions, and making the final checkout and delivery specification process simple. E-commerce also becomes particularly effective when it aligns perfectly with other store systems, and reflects the brand effectively and clearly.
In-store, this translates into extending the digital footprint into the store experience, through innovations such as mobile store technology, click-and-collect options, and personalised shopping history becoming available to store workers at point of sale. Harnessing technology in a bricks-and-mortar environment to deliver a world-class service will reinforce the many benefits of omnichannel shopping to customers. This connectivity will be crucial in further encouraging the uptake of connected shopping journeys, but it will only be successful if retailers are equipped with the integrated technology to make it work.
All in the cloud
Cloud commerce can revolutionise the way retail operates, and leading organisations are already exploring its potential to manage back-office, inventory management and promotions anytime and anywhere. Organisations that adopt cloud-based solutions will be able to set themselves apart from their competitors.
Cloud, particularly hybrid cloud models, empower retailers to manage store operations in more effective and agile ways. Allowing access to enterprise-wide customer data, hybrid cloud models provide anytime accessibility to store information, even across borders. Hybrid cloud models within retail are the next frontier for retailers looking to expand across geographies as they move to an infrastructure-thin, yet data and services-rich, platform.
Such scalability and collaboration are essential factors in retail, especially if there are goals of global store expansion, making cloud commerce and hybrid cloud models the best way to effectively manage this growth. It also ensures vital customer data is safe and always backed up.
Innovation in retail technology is rapidly shifting to the cloud. With many retail business employing a cloud-first approach, and growing their ability to manage data, stock, and omnichannel journeys, those who do not uptake will be left without a competitive advantage. Leveraging cloud commerce now will ensure that retailers are well placed for the innovations of the future.
The future of mobile shopping
On Black Friday in 2016, shoppers in America hit the $1 billion milestone in purchases made on mobile during the sales period. In order to reach this new mass of consumers who are shopping on the go, retailers must engage mobile shoppers with offers, coupons and deals delivered on their devices.
The future of mobile shopping is one that will rely on omnichannel shopping journeys. As more people consult their mobile phones during the physical in-store experience (some 51% of Australians are reported to do this), this presents a unique opportunity to market on-the-ground to customers via digital channels. For example, geo-location services can push offers to customers in-store, rewarding them for making a store visit, and reinforcing a positive circle of purchasing for the retailer that occurs both digitally and physically. Geo-location services can even make special offers to consumers based on where they are standing in the store, encouraging the swift purchase of an item that was previously causing hesitation to a customer.
Apps are also a key element to be leveraged in an m-commerce strategy, particularly for geo-targeting. Apps will be the foremost way to geo-locate your customers through security permissions and push notifications on mobile, and are therefore a worthy investment. It encourages brand loyalty too – customers who have chosen to download your app are likely to be among your biggest fans, and therefore likely to respond to offers.
Through leveraging cloud commerce, e-commerce and m-commerce, retailers will be able to gain a competitive advantage in an already crowded space. The future of these technologies will boost consumer sentiment as retailers aim to keep up with shoppers’ growing expectations of a seamless shopping journey across all channels, and all devices.