Retail customers are increasingly well-informed. Retail businesses are too. Their customers are providing more information about themselves, in endless streams of both observed and self-reported data, all of which are prime sources for analysis. The volume of data also covers the many touch points in the purchasing process, and each interaction is an opportunity for the vendor to demonstrate the transparency and sense of connection expected by today’s customers.
While the demand for real-time interaction is on the rise, often these contacts are brief and impersonal and typically disconnected from one and another. Businesses can employ a key strategy to counter this trend—become a customer-centric retailer—and treat shopper relationships as a strategic asset to drive lifetime value. To seize this opportunity, enterprising retail executives build or procure powerful and flexible customer-centric information technology solutions designed to deliver connected experiences to shoppers.
Advancements in technologies such as cloud-based services, large-scale databases, digital media, devices and interfaces, adaptive search, and Internet-based and GPS-based systems have opened up many new ways to reach and stay connected to shoppers. Targeted promotional activity and product or service information is more relevant, consistent, and available across store, web, mobile, and social media channels, and match the customer’s request for easy access and a consistent shopping experience.
Microsoft’s vision for improved customer-centricity focuses on client characterization, loyalty, and marketing. The strategy involves improving retailers’ ability to increase volume, frequency, and revenue potential of shopping transactions by increasing store traffic, shopper-to-buyer conversion rates, and average purchase size. Today’s web, search, mobile and wireless communication devices deliver 360-degree customer views and deeply personalized customer experiences, and with these technologies, the retailer can accomplished these strategic goals.
This paper is intended for business and technology leaders at retailers who seek novel, business-focused approaches to helping shape connected customer strategies and solutions. It discusses the forces at work and industry priorities, considerations for formulating business and technology strategies and solutions, how to accelerate information technology (IT) execution planning to realize optimal value, and describes Microsoft’s approach and unique value proposition in the retail sector.