With the rise of the digital marketplace and the instant, 24/7 access consumers now have to goods, brands are facing challenges that threaten their survival. Delivering excellent customer service has become vital for brands and retailers to ensure their customer experience doesn’t drive customers into the hands of competitors in an increasingly competitive market.

However, our research has revealed that most retail brands are struggling to keep pace with customer demand, leaving them at risk of failing to deliver on their brand promises in the omnicommerce era.

Customer expectations continue to rise, margins continue to be squeezed and new concepts like click & collect are making shopping more convenient for consumers and becoming differentiators for retailers. Goods are now expected to be on-demand with near-instant delivery times and unlimited stock. Being able to keep pace with this demand is a big issue for retailers, as bad customer service drives customers away and sales down. Competitors will benefit and the risks are great. The brand that can deliver the best customer experience will win the competition for the customer.

Pick up the pace

In a survey of 750 grocery managers and directors from Europe and the United States, 90% responded that they have issues meeting customer requirements, with a quarter feeling as though they fail to deliver a full omnichannel experience. The main issue is speed. One in five believe that they do not deliver the product at the speed their customers expect, and nearly a third of respondents in the UK believe that there are too many decisions to make and that these are not being made fast enough, therefore slowing the process and failing to meet customers’ rising expectations.

This, say nearly 40% of retailers, is a result of inefficiencies in supply chain decision making that leaves managers and directors unable to deliver products that their customers want.

Supermarket brands need to adapt their decision making in all areas - from the supply chain to the shop floor – to survive. Matching the clock-speed of the customer and keeping pace with their expectations is the key to surviving in the new retail world order. To do this, brands will have to adopt emerging technologies to stay one step ahead of the game.

Don’t be afraid to turn to Artificial Intelligence to drive better customer experience

Interestingly, every one of the 750 respondents in Blue Yonder’s survey believe that AI and machine learning will change the future of retail, if they are not doing so already. They also believe that better data availability (85%), data analysis (71%) and automation (67%) can help them speed up and make the best daily decision making.

When an industry relies on technology, machine learning has to be number one on the priority list. Manual operations and decision making in supply chains is letting brands down. The only way to solve the issue is to incorporate Artificial Intelligence into the retail sector. This will allow retailers to maintain excellent customer service, keeping them relevant, competitive and in business. Automation – including AI and innovative cloud technologies – is the next big step for retailers and their customers, with further use of these technologies building upon and enhancing the omnicommerce experience.

 

By Dunja Riehemann, marketing director at Blue Yonder


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