Order Management Integration, Omni-Channel Capabilities and Flexible Fulfillment Top POS and Customer Engagement Priorities in 2021, According to New RCP Report

85% of Retailers Indicate Growing and Enhancing Digital Commerce as Top Business Priority for 2021

According to the recent Retail Consulting Partners (RCP) POS & Customer Engagement Survey, 85% of retailers have ranked growing and enhancing digital commerce as their top business priority in 2021. No big surprise, given the explosive growth in online transactions in 2020, but digital is only part of the experience as customers still expect a seamless, anywhere, anytime, anyhow experience across all channels. The store remains the central customer experience hub as the majority of retail transactions occur in-store and many online orders are picked up or fulfilled from the store. Focus on the holistic customer experience remains paramount and is shaping many retailers technology decision as 67% of retailers indicated their 2nd highest business priority for 2021 is expanding and enhancing the customer experience.

Personalization of the shopping experience has been the top customer engagement priority for the past couple of years, but 52% of retailers indicate that providing customers with flexible and convenient pickup and delivery options is now the most critical customer engagement priority in 2021. “Retail has never been more transparent and the customer experience is center stage. Flawless execution of omni-channel capabilities and last-mile delivery or pickup is the expectation and key differentiator driving loyalty for most retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, a managing partner at RCP.

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As retailers scrambled last year to implement omni-channel capabilities like BOPAC, the struggle for many still remained in effectively integrating online, order management (OMS) and in-store point-of-sale (POS) technologies. In 2021, retailers are focused on this, as 67% indicate their top POS priority is adding or enhancing OMS integration and 52% indicate omni-channel capabilities is their 2nd highest POS priority. Trending up as well is the number of retailers prioritizing POS software upgrade or replacement, 52%, up from 41% last year. As retailers focus on new technology for the store, 74% of retailers indicate they have or plan to implement a unified commerce platform within the next three years. “Thinking about POS and other in-store technology differently is an imperative,” said Brian Brunk, a managing partner at RCP. “The customer experience of tomorrow is not the same as five years ago or even last year and, therefore, the concept of POS is and will be radically different than that of five years ago.”

RCP’s 22nd Annual POS/Customer Engagement Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as retailers focus on immediate needs balanced with their future strategic direction.

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The top five customer experience trends driving today’s retailer initiatives are:

FULFILLMENT FLEXIBILITY – 52% of retailers indicate that customer delivery and pickup capabilities are the top customer engagement priority for 2021.

PERSONALIZATION – 41% of retailers indicate that customer identification and personalization of the the shopping experience is a top customer engagement priority for 2021.

RETAIL MOBILITY – 41% of retailers indicate customer mobile experience alignment as a top customer engagement priority and 33% for associate mobile tools.

REAL-TIME RETAIL – Real-time retail is trending up, as 33% of retailers indicate this as a top customer engagement priority, up from 19% last year.

SELF-SERVICE RETAIL – 22% of retailers indicate self-service as a top customer engagement priority in 2021.

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