At Enactor we firmly agree with the opinion of our customer, the Mountain Warehouse CEO, Mark Neale who says that the retail high street is not dying, but simply changing. As online retailers have dominated commodity shopping, there still remains a significant opportunity for traditional retailers to gain lost ground.Online retailers typically offer detailed and up to the minute stock information as well as flexible options for delivery such as same day, scheduled or click and collect. Returns are also easy for consumers, for example Missguided enable customers to go online, print a label and a courier collects the item.
All of this offers maximum convenience to the consumer, which in turn leads to increased repeat business for the retailer.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES WITH OMNI CHANNEL?
We often hear retailers bemoan the fact that they simply can’t compete with online retailers, and that consumer choices are all driven by price. The latter is a somewhat lazy assertion that may be true for commodity products and FMCG, however it’s consistently demonstrated that consumers prefer convenience, and are willing to pay a little more for additional convenience and a personal touch.
According to Lux Research, consumers are willing to pay up to 11% more for each added layer of convenience during a purchase lifecycle.
However, the retail estate is not without its challenges, a hefty store network is expensive to maintain and must be leveraged, inflexible systems that are difficult, expensive and time consuming to change don’t help either.
These systems can make it difficult to respond quickly to changes in payments for example, accepting new payment methods such as Klarna, or internal cards such as those from Chinese banks.
It’s also difficult to respond to competitor behaviour quickly, such as smaller delivery windows, shorter delivery lead times or easy returns.
SO, WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
Headless Commerce that facilitates omni channel retail is the key for retailers to meet these challenges. Headless Commerce is a term used to describe when the front-end presentation layers of applications, such as websites and Apps, are separate from the back-end and share a common set of services and data-structures, all managed via APIs.
The “headless” aspect, i.e. an application with no User Interface, simply means that there is no front-end that comes with the platform for customer interaction. The application acts as a common layer accessed via web service calls from disparate applications that rely on the application being at least part, if not all, of their back-end functionality.
Ultimately, headless commerce gives more flexibility and control over the customer facing experience back to the retailer.
For example, the store network can be easily utilised as mini-distribution centres to fulfil click and collect, out of stocks and customer home delivery, as well as returns. This drives footfall back into store from online and creates convenience for the customer through increased delivery options and potentially reduced “waiting” time for their purchase.
If another “Klarna” appears, with headless commerce, microservices can be quickly created to offer it as an option to customers without large amounts of fixed integration.
87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless experience, (Zendesk) and companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement (Aberdeen Group).
We’re all consumers ourselves, and we all want convenience, so why not offer customers the experience you’d want?
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