According to a new report from retail management consulting firm BRP, 55 percent of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels.

“The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP, in a news release. “This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey.”

Stores must now encompass both worlds: The sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate—whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics—married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world. The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future.

BRP conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey to understand retailers’ customer experience priorities today and for the future, and how the evolution of unified commerce helps provide retailers with the right people, processes and technology to enable retailers to enhance the customer experience.

The key customer experience capabilities are:

Educate

One of the areas of greatest improvement is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products. Overall utilization is up from 73 percent of retailers utilizing it last year to 92 percent this year, however, many retailers indicate that their current social media offerings need improvement.

Engage

Most retailers have plans to implement new technologies to identify customers via their smartphones, mobile applications and other emerging technologies. Within three years, 59 percent of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi and 63% plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their stores.

Execute

Sixty-seven percent of retailers are offering a consistent product assortment across channels; however, many retailers are still struggling with manual processes as 43% indicate the processes need improvement.

Enhance

Retailers realize the importance of utilizing customer insights gathered from social media as 89 percent of retailers are now using social media comments as a critical customer satisfaction measurement, up from 59 percent last year.

Enable

Enhanced networks are a critical requirement for a unified commerce environment and 76 percent of retailers plan to enhance or replace their network within the next three years.

Download the complete 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey here.

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