|The changes in customer expectations that have arisen from this shift have been nothing short of dramatic. Today’s shoppers, particularly younger ones, simply don’t think in terms of using multiple channels to research, browse, buy and sometimes return products. Increasingly, they just expect that all of a retailer’s customer touch points—from e-commerce and mobile sites to stores and catalogue supporting call centres—will be coordinated and capable of producing a seamless shopping experience. For this growing cohort of consumers, a retailer’s cross-channel capabilities are no longer a positive differentiator—but their absence is certainly a negative one.
Customer interactions offer retailers enormous opportunities for deepening their understanding of customer behaviour and increasing customer engagement. Retailers can capture a customer advantage—by empowering the customers themselves to do much of what is being done by them. Retailers can gather useful data about their customer's purchases, preferences and patterns in the process, which can be used to drive customer loyalty. And with promotions, offers and loyalty programs retailers can directly drive to their customers' mobile devices and enhance the overall customer buying experience.
Given the competitive landscape, and with the added complication of new channels such as selling via social media networks, mobile media, order management systems have moved from the “nice-to-have” column and into the “business necessity” column. A retailer’s ability to establish one version of the truth about the most basic transactional unit—an individual customer’s order—is needed to meet key customer service requirements such as promised delivery dates for online orders.