Speaking at the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference in New York City, IT e-commerce vice-president Ramiya Iyer said while online is growing and the retailer is continuing to invest, it has to treat all of its channels –store, online, mobile – equally.
However, it is starting to think of mobile before any other touchpoint.
“Consumers are getting more comfortable making shopping decisions on mobile,” she said at NRF's SAP roundtable. “We’re not treating mobile as an afterthought, it has to be as fully functional as the primary website.”
Traditionally, retailers have seen a lot of traffic to websites from smartphone devices, but conversion is more likely to come from tablets or PCs due to larger screens being easier to use and enter payment details on.
More recently, retailers are seeing more transactions on smartphone devices partly because of clean adaptive webistes and partly because bigger screen sizes are becoming more popular – such as the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy handsets.
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Iyer said the retailer is taking advantage of the increase in mobile purchasing and is beginning to trial social media initiatives which are based around the mobile device and its camera.
“There are certain things that play very well on a mobile device,” she said.
Also taking part in the roundtable, senior vice-president of product strategy at SAP Charles Nicholls said the mobile device is now the first screen – not the third.
“We spend more time on our smartphone than watching TV, and when we watch TV we are on our smartphone again,” he said. “Mobile is the glue between the channels, and we have barely scratched the surface.”
But whether retailers choose to concentrate on mobile, online or in-store technologies, Iyer said digital and store strategies need to be unified to lead to omni-channel success.
“Traditionally, retailers have looked by channel – the in-store experience, online and mobile – and everyone jumps and does their own separate ways,” she said.
Mobile is the glue between the channels, and we have barely scratched the surface
Charles Nicholls, SAP
“But the customer really doesn’t care. That is the key, to identify the path for each channel and bring it all together. Once you start mashing the data together, you see the behavioural pattern.”
But it is the back-end retail systems that need improvement to create an omni-channel experience. Iyer said they need to be better connected to be able to analyse data to create a holistic view of the customer.
“You might have a tool for marketing which is different from your tool for enterprise resource planning," she said. "You’re not looking for solution to replace across the board, but you need to extract the right repository of data.
“But there’s no golden bullet,” she added. “At the end of the day it boils down to the core data and the need to marry it together.”
For Levi Strauss & Co, data could allow the retailer to unlock personalisation and customisation for its customers.
Once it understands if a customer just likes one regular pair of jeans or if they like lots of different styles, it can market the appropriate clothes. “It all goes back to data,” Iyer concluded.