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Challenges in the Retail Industry

In response to pressures from e-commerce, retailers like you are struggling to unify experiences across channels. But customer insights show that brick and mortar shopping experiences are not a thing of the past.

Retailers are facing immense pressure due to the expansion of e-commerce, especially when it comes to online giants like Amazon. In fact, major retailer Macy’s experienced a 15% drop in stock value within a 12-month period, which they largely attribute to sales lost to online competitors. Understandably, many retailers have spent the past few years enhancing their e-commerce offerings.

However, what many retailers are failing to consider is that your customers don't want to do their shopping exclusively online—what they really want is an omni-channel experience that includes brick and mortar stores. Studies show that 85% of consumers want to do their shopping in a store, preferring to touch and feel products before they buy. 

Forrester reported that they expect online US retail sales to grow 17% between 2016 and 2018. Yet, a more important piece of the puzzle is that offline sales influenced by online interactions are growing, too. In fact, web-influenced offline sales are expected to top purely offline sales for the first time ever in 2016totaling $1.6 trillion. This number is projected to increase another 12% between 2016 and 2018. Even though your customers prefer to come to a store location to make a purchase, they're going online before they do.

Experts expect offline sales influenced by online interactions to increase 12% between 2016 and 2018.

It would be risky to underestimate the power of the in-store experience, and the importance of seamlessly integrating in-store and online interactions to deliver a cohesive customer experience. Unfortunately, many shoppers’ are still encountering an inconsistent experience between digital and brick-and-mortar, and even between individual stores. This is largely a result of a disconnect in technology and processes impeding corporate’s ability to track customer issues across all store locations.

How you can succeed at omni-channel service 

Brands that are able to connect experiences across the entire customer journeyincluding in-storeoffer something that pure e-commerce retailers like Amazon cannot. By giving your customers a consistent and personalized experience, whether they are on your site, using your app, or standing in your store, you're eliminating barriers to purchase and building loyalty.

A critical component of keeping customer experiences consistent, regardless of where interactions take place, is making sure all front-line employees have accurate informationwhether they're store associates or contact center agents. A unified hub for customer info and company knowledge ensures everyone can provide correct and personalized responses to customers and enables corporate to glean best practices from individual locations and communicate them organization-wide.

Customers want that consistency to extend to self-service, and leveraging a unified CRM allows virtual agents and chatbots to pull answers from the knowledgebase and tailor responses using each customer's personal information, purchase history, and other data. The technology also creates easy transitions from self-service to speaking with a contact center rep via voice or video, and equips the agents to seamlessly continue conversations, instead of asking customers to start over.

The technology solutions that make it happen

Astute Solutions empowers omni-channel retail and delivers consistent, seamless customer experiences with our smart CRM, knowledgebase, and self-service software.

Contact center agents use a single CRM interface to manage all customer interactions, such as email, social, phone, live chat, and video. Rich customer context, and integrated knowledgebase, and suggested next best actions allow agents to deliver personalized, accurate, and optimized customer interactionsevery time. Intelligent escalation lets agents seamlessly pick up the conversation where self-service leaves off.

Unified CRM data collection and social media management across all store locations allows corporate to track customer issues, communicate best practices organization-wide, and identify trends and insights for future improvement.

Astute's self-service solutions power virtual agents and service bots with this same customer context and smart knowledgebase, providing your customers with relevant and tailored responses while deflecting calls and emails from your contact center.

We know how to help retailers win at customer engagement. Request a demo of our suite today