How customers interact with brands and the retail marketplace continues to evolve, but what’s certain is that they prefer digital-first retail experiences and expect seamless connectivity. In fact, over 70 per cent of customer interactions with an organisation today are digital.
The shift to digital has compelled the retail sector to pivot quickly to deliver these experiences – or die trying. Every shopper or potential shopper interested in a certain product offering expects the same quality of service on their phone, desktop, or whatever engine they choose to shop online from.
That means retailers need systems that address customer needs from anywhere and at any time with agility and efficiency – in-store, across a website or third-party marketplaces, over social networks and in mobile apps. This multitude of streams increases the data load on a business and the systems that are deployed to increase customer engagement. Unfortunately, a lot of organisations are left behind, with almost half of businesses reporting they cannot provide connected experiences across the apps and systems their customers are using.
The new market
Part of the digital ecosystem companies need to align with is the modern marketplace economy. Whether it’s Etsy, Amazon, or another major online retailer, businesses face the challenge of securely integrating and managing workflows across multiple silos of data and systems at scale.
Often, doing so is far from easy. Data and the systems they inhabit are increasingly fragmented as more proprietary shopfronts and apps emerge. The average enterprise has data in over 900 systems and apps, all of which are critical for customer insight and engagement, powering everything from personalisation campaigns to technologies to strategic decision making.
Integrating data across all systems and applications is the key to a cohesive customer engagement system. However, this is often challenging without the proper tools in place, and improper data integration is one of the main reasons most customer data initiatives fail. Delivering connected experiences is about ensuring that company and customer data is accessible to the right people, and enabling all internal systems to speak the same language seamlessly and automatically. Doing so is critical and must be done efficiently for an organization to evolve and grow. Today, meeting those twin goals is only really possible using the appropriate automation technology.
A new composition
Today’s automated retail customer interaction is about much more than just streamlining manual tasks for the IT department. From a website’s virtual assistant to campaign-based online material for a single product across social media, there are a host of processes staff should be able to perform without the use of a complex IT system.
Despite so many of those processes being based on digital code, many modular elements of the business process are repeatable, reusable, and ripe for workflow automation under a composable business model. A composable business is one where an organisation’s digital presence and data is made up of a series of standardised building blocks that adhere to integration protocols, streamlining repeatable and manual tasks.
That way, teams don’t have to code or program apps or systems from scratch with every new connectivity or customer engagement project. Composable business models are powered by no-code that enables staff who don’t necessarily have IT skills to create new ways for customers to engage without sacrificing the security and governance.
A composable business lets a company quickly achieve exactly what the new retail landscape demands – products, services and experiences that are deployable across customers’ digital universe, wherever they are and however they connect.
None of the work to ensure that customers have a satisfying and consistent experience is easy, and none of it can (or should) be done on a manual basis is becoming nearly impossible in our increasingly digital-first world. Automation is the only way to be as agile and efficient as possible to remain competitive and on the cutting edge of continuous digital transformation.
Integration, API management, business process and platform connectivity are the new languages businesses need to speak. Automation in business processes and a composable business model will help retail companies achieve their desired business outcome; greater customer engagement.
Grace Micallef is regional vice president for industries at MuleSoft.