Many retailers have quickly and successfully navigated the challenges of the last two years to a place where they are now equipped with many of the right tools required to seamlessly serve their customers across whichever touchpoints or platforms they prefer. Manhattan Associates’ Alex MacPherson takes a look at how CX has evolved.

For many retailers, this agile, innovation-heavy fusion of online and physical demand is becoming more commonplace, placing the role of modern, dynamic point-of-sale (PoS) technology squarely at the centre of a redefined connected commerce era. 

The three stages of CX

For brands today, a reimagined customer experience can be broken down into three key stages, with modern PoS playing an important linchpin function at each of the three phases:

  • Pre-purchase: Retailers need to have full visibility of not just customer data such as purchase history, but also their own inventory, too.
  • Purchase: Out-of-stock is no longer an option for retailers today. Modern PoS and endless-aisle capabilities mean shoppers can purchase goods from across an entire network, rather than being restricted by the availability of inventory at a single location.
  • Post-purchase: Stores have a critical role to play in the returns process, but without smart, joined-up store systems returned goods can often fall into an inventory ‘black hole’.

To truly reimagine the customer experience journey at a deeper level in 2022, we have to recognise that the role of the store is no longer limited to selling; rather, bricks-and-mortar retail must be repositioned as a hub for fulfilment, too.   

The benefits of this approach have been played out over the past two years and continue to do so today. Retailers with store fulfilment options see higher revenue growth – a 114% increase when click and collect is implemented and a 60% increase when ship-from-store is implemented.

Looking ahead

The future of the customer experience journey is closely linked to ecommerce, and the future of ecommerce is intrinsically linked to the evolving capabilities offered by stores.

With the likes of Amazon reporting a 3% loss of online sales in Q1 of 2022, the physical store looks set to have a major comeback since the pandemic. 

In order to meet supercharged customer expectations, retailers need to adopt a sell/fulfil/engage-anywhere mentality.

However, when it comes to future-ready PoS implementation, brands often make three common mistakes:

  • Adopting a store-only plan, which could limit future agility
  • Minimal investment in change management, leading to uncertainty or failure to thrive
  • Selecting a ‘proven’ vendor with old technology without consideration for new innovations

The expectations for a modern PoS solution to mirror the same capabilities that a customer experiences online, such as previous order history, previous delivery addresses, payment defaults and sizing preferences, are all important factors to the consumer. 

All too often, brands are still thinking in silos. Instead, they need to develop a unified commerce roadmap (PoS + clienteling + store fulfilment + customer engagement), make a clear plan for organisational change and select the right vendor capable of delivering against long-term, aspirational and often moving targets. 

“Are you capable of delivering a seamless customer experience journey across all the places your brand is represented, both online and physically?”

Suppose the consumer searches for three items; one is in the ecommerce warehouse and is shipped to their home, another is close to work so they can click and collect, and a third is purchased from the store.

The ability for a modern PoS to conclude as a single, truly omnichannel transaction is vital. 

Whether in store, online, curbside, via mobile or even shopping via social media, ask yourself: are you capable of delivering a seamless customer experience journey across all the places your brand is represented, both online and physically?

If the answer is no, maybe it’s the right time to think about the evolution of your store systems and broader supply chain.

Alex MacPherson, Manhattan Associates

Alex MacPherson is director of solution consultancy and account management at Manhattan Associates

MacPherson is a highly experienced and knowledgeable pre-sales leader in warehouse management software and omnichannel, with 20 years of experience at Manhattan Associates.