Cylande: retailers must consider omnichannel and digital solutions

Modern consumers have expectations that retailers can find tough to fulfil. Omnichannel and digital solutions must be embraced in order to not be left behind, writes Mireille Reichert, Marketing and Communications Manager, Cylande

Feature image
Nao, a robot shop assistant adapted by Cylande. The company has recently worked on a paper, in conjunction with IDC France, about the importance of the omnichannel approach in retail

Technology is changing the nature of the relationship between the shopper and the retailer. The internet and the ever-increasing use of mobile technology have totally reshaped consumers’ information levels and buying habits. Tendencies such as showrooming or making purchases based on another customer’s opinion have become commonplace. Consumers actually expect interactions with their favourite brands to happen anytime, anyhow, anywhere.

The omnichannel era
In order to adapt to this empowered, informed and connected shopper, retailers have no other choice than to implement omnichannel business processes. They have to deliver the right content and context across all channels, seamlessly and in real-time. The information needs to be consistent and available at every potential consumer’s point of contact, be it the web, a store, a call centre, a mobile phone or a catalogue. The object of this is to help retailers display product details, prices and associated promotions in physical stores, online, and on mobile devices simultaneously. The main goals for the retailer are to avoid losing the customer’s loyalty and, above all, to increase purchase conversion rates. The consumer, on the other hand, is provided with a homogeneous and personalised experience, whatever channel they use to discover or order the retailer’s products.

The omnichannel transformation aims at improving the global shopping experience. Likewise, retailers deploy digital strategies to enrich the customer’s
in-store experience

A white paper published by IDC France earlier this year, in partnership with Cylande, confirmed that 86 percent of the 57 retail chains interviewed have a strong interest in “centralising the management of retail outlets in real-time and integrating the omnichannel approach”, and 64 percent of them have a strong interest in “the development of a bespoke customer experience, independent from the channel used but complementary [to it]”.

The integration of these omnichannel functionalities is, however, a challenge in itself, as it impacts all areas of the business. Not only does it require companies to adapt their customer relationship management and loyalty programmes, but also their merchandise and fulfilment strategies. It sometimes even implies that companies review their organisation to embrace more flexible business models. In other words, becoming an agile company can be hard work without a solid software infrastructure behind it.

“To cope with these real-time business requirements, retailers need a global solution capable of centralising and managing all data generated in their distribution networks. Without this, it is impossible to deliver the right information to each customer on their preferred channel, while also managing the brand’s margins and stock”, explained Stéphane Escriva, CEO of Cylande.

“We focused on customer experience-enabling solutions as soon as e-commerce and mobility took a growing place in the industry”, added Escriva. “We now deliver an omnichannel solution that brings a 360-degree vision of a business as expected by retailers. Anticipation is key to success.”

Escriva joined Cylande in 1994, to contribute to the development of the company. He rapidly became sales director and then vice-president, while at the same time increasing his personal investment to become the second-largest private shareholder of the company. More recently, he was named European CEO’s Best CEO in the Retail Solutions Industry for 2015.

Digitising retail
The omnichannel transformation aims at improving the global shopping experience. Likewise, retailers deploy digital strategies to enrich the customer’s in-store experience. This begins by using their cross-channel capabilities to develop techniques that stimulate commerce. Examples of this include click-and-collect, store and stock locators, push notifications, and the launch of online marketing campaigns that promote in-store sales. Retailers also adapt their physical distribution networks to put the client at the heart of all actions, to withstand traffic erosion in stores.

To make sure the consumer continues to consider points-of-sale as inescapable meeting points with the brand, retailers try to ‘re-enchant’ stores, that is (with the help of new technologies), they tend to reproduce the logic used on the web in physical stores. They achieve this through a range of different digital devices. To redefine the customer path in-store, retailers use tablets, mobile phones, interactive screens and tactile tables, checkout desks, kiosks, connected watches, and connected fitting rooms. Thanks to an omnichannel software solution, all information is available on all different devices, and is readily shared between them.

“Innovation is fundamental when a retailer decides to implement a digital strategy. Cylande’s thorough understanding of the retail industry and the close relationship we maintain with our customers are the key drivers behind our company’s success. Our innovations are always designed for immediate and concrete use by our clients. That’s why they also invigorate our research and development teams, and boost our sales”, observed Escriva.

The Nao robot is a perfect illustration of growing digitisation in stores. Cylande adapted Nao, built by Aldebaran Robotics, to become a sales assistant. The robot can welcome shoppers, read loyalty card details, and announce discounts available to customers. Nao can also scan QR codes associated with any items customers wish to buy, announce the price of each item, and even call a salesperson when the time comes for payment. The robot has really been designed to be an active element of the modern customer experience in stores.

The possibilities offered by Nao are immense. Each retailer is free to decide which of the available languages and scenarios Nao should run, depending on the specific customer experience that the brand is aiming to deliver.

International expansion
Although the road to digital transformation implies a review of internal working processes for many retailers, omnichannel initiatives should enable them to differentiate themselves from the competition. They should also improve operational efficiency within points-of-sale and distribution networks and, therefore, improve economic performance.

In fact, those retailers that decided to increase their organisational agility and to upgrade their technological landscape in the early stages of the omnichannel era are now able to commit to other vital challenges, including data security, advanced data analysis, and data reconciliation. They can also focus on their expansion, be it local or international. With data being centralised and delivered in real-time, retailers can easily adapt customer experience, product assortment or customer service for each different market. With a global knowledge of each individual customer’s buying profile, even the most international type of consumer can be identified and get a personalised experience, no matter where in the world they are located.

Retailers that put in place a digitised structure supported by an omnichannel organisation will be ready to react to any change that could happen in the IT, consumer, competitive or economic landscape. They will easily survive the current retail industry shakeup.