Online Integration with Backend Processes
The Australian Centre for Retail Studies will soon release their comprehensive quantitative and qualitative report, including online channel marketing, entitled Australian Retail Industry – Adoption Plans for Online Advertising and E-tailing, which will be launched by IE Managing Director Rhys Hayes. Part of this report will look at the need for online integration with backend processes.
Online integration with other backend processes and touchpoints is critical to the success of any venture into online retail. Possessing the sharpest online store on the planet is certainly a nice start, but without due and careful consideration of the other facets of the business and how they all fit together it may be wasted energy.
‘Seamless’ is a word that gets used a lot in marketing and digital generally, so much so that having the same colour logo on a website as on a product apparently qualifies as a ‘seamless’ customer experience.
The seamless customer experience is actually more difficult to achieve, but is what any retailer with ambition should be focussed on delivering. Customers can come to a retailer from a multitude of channels and touchpoints, including from digital sources, ATL and BTL advertising, word of mouth, editorial coverage and PR. And let’s not forget the old-fashioned way of walking past a store and being intrigued by the visual merchandising in the window. All of these touchpoints should be working in harmony to express the essence of the brand, and delivering a consistent experience to the customer.
Technology can add so much to this experience, particularly in relation to online integration and customer support. A good example is customers being able to tap into stock level information traditionally only available to staff on the retail floor. Knowing that your nearest store is out of stock of the item you want is one thing; learning this from your smartphone while cruising stores rather than from a sales assistant having driven all the way to the store quite another.
Online integration with CRM and eDM programs to build robust campaigns is another important tactical consideration. Not only can marketing communications via digital platforms offer increased accuracy and more immediate calls to action, the metrics are vastly more refined.
From a technical and business growth perspective, online integration with backend processes is critical to ensure ROI is maintained into the future. Three key considerations include:
1. Choosing an API service layer that is device and language independent (meaning that devices such as iPhones, or whatever new devices may arrive in the future, can interact with a language agnostic service)
2. Separate areas of concern – for example, separate presentation from code logic, and design a loose coupling approach. This reduces the need for a ‘master of all trades’ development house
3. Follow trending standards and research – the more widely accepted standards will give an indication as to where technology is going, therefore you should prepare early to maximise software interoperability and adherence to future trends
Explore other areas of online retail channel marketing covered in the report, including: