The retail industry today faces more challenges than brand competition and customer service. Or rather, it’s getting more and more complicated to offer profitable products, prices, and services. In this blog, we’d like to point out 5 key changes that are changing retail challenges. And since service is our goal, we’d like to explain how CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) tooling can help you tackle these challenges.
- Retail is no longer about connecting customers to manufacturers
- Retail margins are under increasing pressure
- It’s hard to show breadth of assortment with limited, costly floor space
- It’s hard to map product and pricing to diverse customer segments
- The customer journey starts online
To start, a simple example. With a Sofa Configurator below a company in Retail can show this product via a website, portal, tablet or touch-computer in the showroom. Below our Retail Sofa Configurator, play around and see how e-Con interacts based on the selections you make. After that, please read along for the challenges and to learn more on e-Con CPQ.
1. Retail is no longer about connecting customers to manufacturers
In the past, retail got maximum power from serving as the middleman between customers and manufacturers, importers, and distributors. Customers had no way to purchase goods except by going through the retailer, so retailers could determine product selection and pricing.
Nowadays, customers know all product and pricing details, sometimes even better than the salesman at the retail shops. Powered by the internet, consumers can buy straight from parties who used to sell only to retailers. Customers demand more than just goods from retailers–for example, installation services, customizations, or advice about the best buying choices. The message is clear–just moving boxes and selling goods isn’t enough.
You need competitive advantage to keep winning customers over, or they’ll go straight through the internet or turn to a retailer who can offer extra value.
2. Retail margins are under increasing pressure
With the rise of the internet, pricing strategies are easily traceable. Customers can compare products and prices themselves and see where they can buy the same product more cheaply. Smart companies have strategies for connecting with customers—for example, loyalty programs. They can work under tight margins because they can count on customers coming back and not going to the competition. And loyal customers are willing to purchase more expensive items over time, because they trust the retailer. Amazon is the world’s example today!
3. It’s hard to show breadth of assortment with limited, costly floor space
Consumers want choices, so retailers need the ability to display all products and variants if they’re to attract and retain customers. The problem is that you need to add the expense of showroom space to cost price for your products. This is a tough issue for brick and mortar retailers—how can you display all possible choices and keep costs down for your showroom?
“With e-Con on the shop floor, we’re introducing a virtual sales assistant who will help us improve customer service. The move towards a customer-centric organization gets closer and closer.”
Kristijan de Weerd, CarpetRight | Learn more about e-Con for CarpetRight
4. It’s hard to map product and pricing info to diverse customer segments
More than ever, retailers need to attract a wide range of customers, so they put all sorts of categories and products in their product portfolio. The problem? All types of products attract specific questions from diverse customer segments. You need answers right at hand, because customers can easily go online or to another retailer if you don’t respond quickly. But this can eat up time and cost and add other complications. You need to make specific salespeople experts for certain product groups. They need to be trained, and you need to make extra effort to ensure that customers are working with the right salesperson for product knowledge and pricing.
5. The customer journey starts online
The impact of online is enormous. Almost all customer journeys start online, via searches through Google, Bing, or other engines. Consumers can compare products themselves, or quickly dial in comparison websites. Reviews, prices, options, and more are all available online. Visiting your shop might be the last step in their journey. Your in-store customer will expect your salesperson to answer any question that wasn’t available online.
“We’re not digging anymore for a great customer experience. e-Con gives us the tools that bring together the customer journey and the production process.”
Michael van den Dool, Bruynzeel Home Products | Learn more about e-Con for Bruynzeel
Summary: How does CPQ tooling help you meet the latest retail challenges?
We see many retailers who are aware of the challenges we’ve described. At e-Con Solutions we have innovative software that helps you meet those challenges! With e-Con CPQ you build competitive advantage because you can increase the possibilities for what you offer, and how you present your offerings. Do you want to install products as well as sell them? Add installation services to a quote in a second. Your sales costs will decrease because customers can build their own quotes online, or via in-Store displays. They can see all you can offer, make choices, and see the impact of services or choices in pricing and delivery. With e-Con, they can navigate complex offerings and often order them without any assistance. And if customers need advice, e-Con CPQ guides them or your salesperson through all possible options. You can rest assured that they will only choose correct product combinations.
Lot of retailers have custom products or services available, but don’t risk immediate quotes or orders because they fear errors, especially for complex offerings. With e-Con CPQ, quoting and ordering is easy, fast, and bullet-proof. And our software ensures you can handle customizations with ease. Where Henry Ford had just one option for his autos—black—that’s not going to work today! Customers want lots of choices, and lots of value-added services. e-Con helps ensure that you attract and retain the most demanding consumer.
Are you in retail? We have many fine references in this industry. Feel free to contact Pieter Versloot to discover the benefits e-Con CPQ can offer you and your organization. Or check a demo model below, add configure your own Sofa with our Retail Product Configurator.