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Survey: Customer experience/engagement among top priorities for retailers

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOSTON — Many retailers are focused on providing a seamless experience in the store, on the web or anywhere customers want to shop as they strive to enhance customer engagement, collect and analyze customer behavior and personalize the experience, according to the newly released Boston Retail Partners 1st Annual CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey. But there’s still much work to be done.

Unified Commerce is the evolution of both multi-channel and omnichannel retailing. The key Unified Commerce initiatives — such as enhancing customer engagement, collecting and analyzing customer behavior, and personalizing the experience — emerged as top priorities for retailers.
 
The 2014 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current state and planned initiatives, priorities and future trends that relate to customer relationship management practices associated with the retail industry’s shift to Unified Commerce.
 
“It was impressive to learn how many retailers are now focused on implementing the technologies to deliver Unified Commerce, but there is still a lot of work to be done to deliver these capabilities,” said Walter Deacon, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Delivering Unified Commerce requires seamless execution of the right strategy, technology and business processes.”
 
The looming challenge is that while marketing has become the center of the Unified Commerce organization, it often is still on its own with regard to developing marketing technology strategies and evaluating and selecting technology, according to Boston Retail Partners. With the importance of multiple key marketing initiatives to achieve a seamless shopping experience, retailers need to examine ways to improve the unification of marketing and IT to successfully implement these projects, research suggests.  Many larger retailers have developed a role in the organization that helps bridge this gap — a senior-level role responsible for working with IT to develop a marketing technology strategy and evaluate and implement the technology.

“To deliver the seamless experience, retailers need to gather, analyze and disseminate customer, product, pricing and inventory data in real-time,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Leveraging technology, Unified Commerce provides the platform and real-time retail is key to delivering the experience. Retailers that successfully deliver Unified Commerce will understand and adopt a ‘unified’ approach for strategic customer initiatives, technology, business processes and execution.”
 
Key survey results —

  • 95% of the respondents indicated customer experience/customer engagement is one of their top three current initiatives;
  • 3% have the ability to identify the customer when she walks in the store, and another 72% plan to implement this within five years;
  • 16% currently have real-time retail from POS (which offers the “Amazon” experience in the store) and another 63% plan to implement within five years;
  • 28% currently use mobile marketing, and another 62% plan to implement this within five years (56% plan to implement mobile marketing within two years);
  • 81% have implemented some type of customer database, typically as part of a CRM or loyalty platform; and
  • 22% of retailers have implemented real-time analytics and 61% plan to implement it within two years.

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Government outlines what electronic health records should look like over next 10 years

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology last week issued a policy paper, "A 10-Year Vision to Achieve an Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure," which outlines the government’s pledge to support interoperable electronic health records to most Americans. 

America is three-quarters of the way there. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, 78% of office-based physicians used any type of electronic health record system, up from 18% in 2001. In 2013, 48% of office-based physicians reported having a system that met the criteria for a basic system, up from 11% in 2006. The percentage of physicians with basic systems by state ranged from 21% in New Jersey to 83% in North Dakota.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 authorized incentive payments to increase physician adoption of electronic health record systems, the CDC noted. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs are staged in three steps, with increasing requirements for participation. To receive an EHR incentive payment, physicians must show that they are "meaningfully using" certified EHRs by meeting certain objectives.

In 2013, 69% of office-based physicians reported that they intended to participate in "meaningful use" incentives. About 13% of all office-based physicians reported that they both intended to participate in meaningful use incentives and had EHR systems with the capabilities to support 14 of the Stage 2 Core Set objectives for meaningful use.

A Forbes breakdown of the new report noted that individuals, care providers, communities and researchers should have an array of interoperable health IT products and services that allow the health care system to continuously learn and advance the goal of improved health care by 2024. 

"This ‘learning health system’ should also enable lower healthcare costs, improved population health, truly empower consumers and drive innovation," the Forbes report explained. "For example, all individuals, their families and care providers should be able to send, receive, find and use health information in a manner that is appropriate, secure, timely and reliable."

"Within six years, the plan is for healthcare entities, including consumers, to apply IT to demonstrate better health outcomes to reduce healthcare costs," the Forbes report added. "That’s right in line with the expectations for Meaningful Use Stage 3, which likely will begin in 2017 and run until incentive money expires in 2021."

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Ulta Beauty names new board member

BY Antoinette Alexander

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — Ulta Beauty has announced that Vanessa Wittman, SVP and CFO of Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility, has been appointed to its board and as a member of its audit committee.

Wittman joins the Ulta Beauty board with more than 25 years of experience in finance and technology. At Motorola Mobility, she leads the teams overseeing all financial activities as well as the teams in charge of strategy, real estate, workplace services and information technology. Prior to joining Motorola Mobility in 2012, Wittman served for four years as EVP and CFO of Marsh & McLennan Cos., a professional services company. She previously held CFO roles at cable television company Adelphia Communications, telecommunications services provider 360networks and software developer at consulting group Metricom.

Wittman has been a director of Sirius XM Holdings since April 2011, and currently serves as a member of its audit committee. She previously served as a director of Infospace, an Internet search company.

 

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