e-commerce challenges in the age of Integrated Retail

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Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said about e-commerce, “Any company, old or new, that does not see this technology as important as breathing could be on its last breath.” A global meme has swept every market place, transforming it into a virtual one. Retailers which don’t compete in this modem-controlled land are missing out on a universe of potential customers. Today it’s no longer necessary to limit trade to the locales of your brick and mortar stores. The American retailer has the capacity to tap into 44% of the world’s internet users by venturing into the territory of over a million online Asians and 22.1% of the online market by targeting another million living in Europe. These users only form three quarters of the global online population, which serves you a total of 2.2 billion potential customers on a golden platter, salted and spiced with an annual growth rate of just over 500%.
With the world online, your challenge has ballooned drastically and you now need to provide your clientele with a point of sale experience, at both the actual and virtual point of sale that is seamless, loyalty-inspiring and prompt.

The point of sale, at its best, is where customers are transformed into clients. At its worst it’s where loyal clients are permanently lost. Long queues, scanning errors, a POS system that confuses staff and lengthens transaction time all have potential to pound down those profits through vanishing clients. In the universe of e-commerce this caliber of transaction comes instead under the guise of insecure payment structures and forms that are difficult to locate and crawling with bugs. Here, clients click out of your site with the ease and speed of a breath, taking their credit cards with them. The point of sale is where customer service is at its purest because here, clients have no suspicion that service excellence is happening under the mask of an attempt to make a sale. When a retailer excels at the till point, both online and in store, he earns the kind of brownie points that clients don’t easily forget having awarded.
Loyalty programs in retail are now a norm rather than the exception. Another meme has spread gloom over global markets, in the form of a recession, is herding customers’ platinum cards towards the retailers that offer the discounts. Following customer service excellence, the most likely facet to draw repeat business from customers is a loyalty scheme. One that can morph customers into loyalists needs to be relevant to their needs and desires. It also needs to be judged by them as sufficient. Anything less renders a possible gold mine futile. Most loyalty schemes do precisely this by offering rewards that are too small, not well targeted to their markets and unrealistic expiration dates. One that delivers what the client wants is rare and thus deeply appreciated. An impressed customer then becomes what is still one of the most valuable forms of advertising: old fashioned word of mouth. In the planet of e-commerce this brand of publicity will be offered to you in the form of the online review, which inspires more confidence in 97% of consumers than even the most flamboyant sales clerk is capable of. Of course, that review also has a reach of a couple of billion working credit cards.
For the retail CEO, all these channels can be controlled powerfully by an innovative and integrated POS system that manages front and back end business on and off line. iVend systems give you a fluid experience that operates across loyalty programs, POS and e-commerce–exceptionally.

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