Consumers Changing Commerce: Merchants Current Reality

(2nd of 3-part series)

Merchants on the move to meet customer demand
Meeting, exceeding and keeping up with customer demand in commerce today is no easy task.  What are the most common challenges they face in creating common experiences that keep consumers coming back for more?

Today’s merchants face many challenges when it comes to meeting consumers’ expectations. Advances in technology have made many things easier but take time, money, and dedication. Small and medium sized businesses in particular often lack the necessary resources to keep up with the myriad technological advancements. Before we address how to meet shoppers’ expectations through things like mobility, security and omnicommerce, let’s first consider merchants’ current reality.

Inadequate POS infrastructure

Many merchants are using an out-of-date POS system, or not using one at all. Some retail segments lag behind in POS adoption more than others. About two-thirds of consignment retailers, for example, use manual methods or nothing at all to track data.6 Even as consumers become more interested in digital payments, retailers are slow to adopt the infrastructure needed to accept this payment type. As of December 2014, only 13 percent of North American retailers were accepting customer payments via PayPal, and even fewer (eight percent) were accepting Apple Pay®.1

Inconsistency across channels

As customers expect consistency across all channels, from merchants’ brick-and-mortar locations, to their websites, mail order catalog, mobile app, email and text messages, many merchants struggle with how to do it effectively. Many lack experience in at least one, and usually more, of the channels, and do not have the necessary technology to create a seamless cross-channel customer experience. Only a third of retailers have streamlined even the basics such as online ordering for store pickup.

Customer loyalty

Loyalty programs are a proven, effective way to keep shoppers coming back. Yet, only 34 percent of SMB owners have a loyalty program in place.2 Those that do often lack the reporting, tracking and customer communication capabilities that are available with a digital platform. Retailers face many challenges to implementing a loyalty program including time and cost constraints, lack of expertise, and the inability to customize a program for their clientele.

How can you close the gap between shopper expectations and your current reality?  Omnicommerce, mobility, loyalty and security can help.

References

1Statista Inc., http://www.statista.com/statistics/384921/digital-payment-methods-retail-america/, 2014.  

2BIA Kelsey™, http://blog.biakelsey.com/index.php/2014/04/03/biakelsey-and-manta-joint-report-smbs-shift-priority-to-customer-retention/, 2014

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