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Retail Online Integration: Cognizant’s Senior Vice-President of Retail and Consumer Goods Consulting Provides Tips to Grow Market Share in an Omnichannel Retail Environment

“As the retail industry continues to evolve and consumers are presented with ever-increasing options to complete their shopping journey, retailers must understand shopper preferences to stay competitive,” writes Steven Skinner. Citing Cognizant’s survey of 2,500 shoppers in the United States and Canada to understand shopper preferences and expectations, he says, “Our results revealed that the basics still rule: In-store execution, favorable online shopping features, creating a shopping experience wherever the customer happens to be, and giving customers a personalized experience are most critical to consumers.”

“A large factor impacting customers’ in-store purchases is price. Before discounts and promotions even come into play, consumers want a fair, initial price. Customer retention depends on it,” he writes. “The in-store experience is critical for retaining customers at brick-and-mortar locations. Having knowledgeable and empowered associates with well-defined policies and procedures to complete a sale are key to creating satisfied customers. Being consistent and honest with consumers is essential when it comes to pricing and product availability.”

According to Skinner, integration of brick-and-mortar stores, mobile and e-commerce, while maintaining brand representation through social media, is important for customer satisfaction. “Retailers need to consider the bigger picture when it comes to their distribution channels for order online/pick up in-store. Given the substantial investment that's required, retailers should address associate training, store policies and inventory processes to scale operations as well as supply chain efficiencies.” He adds, “Retailers looking to maintain their market share should consider the competitive advantages afforded by things such as free shipping and free returns, as well as online sales.”

Skinner writes, “Technology will continue to have a huge impact on the shopper experience, however, retailers can't afford to forget about the basics. The key for retailers to maintain their market share will be to continue listening to and understanding their customers, leveraging technology wisely, and focusing on improving the customers’ multichannel shopping experience. The mantra of ‘enabling retail without boundaries’ must be the mind-set for retail marketers and merchants.”

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