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Sheri Hebbeln
 
February 25, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM) | Sheri Hebbeln

Customers Need to be the Heart of Your Strategy

Customer expectations are constantly redefining the retail industry. If you sell wine online, you need to keep up with the latest trends to stay relevant to your customer base. Between your tasting room and online wine sales, inventory management can become more challenging, and this can put a strain on operations. Even though the right e-commerce solutions may enable you to succeed, the reality of the future of retail may not be so simple.

A recent report from PricewaterhouseCooper​s found the integrated capabilities of technology have necessitated a shift to the "total retail" experience. This could mean a number of new expectations from wineries.

"Consumers now view multichannel shopping as a given, and the costs and complexities of managing a multichannel model are too great and offer too few rewards to benefit the customer experience," said Steven Barr, PwC's U.S. retail and consumer practice leader. "Today's non-stop shoppers have taken things into their own hands, becoming more tech-savvy than retailers. Consumers have the tools at their fingertips to immerse themselves into the retail brand."

What wineries need to know about new trends

One of the biggest challenges in the retail industry is creating a unified customer experience, according to Business 2 Community. As client journeys grow more complex, consumers expect to have the same quality of interactions through any channel they use to contact you. Any experience short of seamless can impact customer satisfaction and profitability in the long run. In fact, the article cited data from SDL that found 73 percent of American consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Consistency is a major competitive differentiator, and you need to pay attention if you want to maintain gains in direct-to-consumer sales. 

A unified experience may seem nearly impossible to create, but placing your customers at the heart of your strategy and ensuring client service representatives are able to assist individuals through all channels are two aspects that can improve the quality of the experience. Customer-focused retailers tend to have better results because they impress clients with the personalized experience and dedicated service representatives. This is why it's important to be accessible when consumers need help, whether they're having trouble completing an online purchase or want to return or exchange wine. Consistency is essential. A simple way to create a more unified experience is to ensure prices are the same through all purchase channels.

Preparing for the total retail experience
Although it may not happen overnight, wineries need to prepare for new customer trends so they can continue to engage with their customers. PwC reemphasized the importance of consistency across all channels. While researchers found that many people avoid mobile purchases because of too-small screen sizes, the organization suggested increased tablet sales and larger smartphones would boost mobile sales for many retailers. 

To cope with the rapidly changing nature of customer behavior, wineries need real-time insight into their inventories. Consumers want to be able to check whether items are in stock before they place online orders or visit a physical retailer, according to PwC. This may put more pressure on consumer-facing organizations to update their supply chain capabilities. Wine shipping will likely be more important to shoppers as well. Consumers increasingly want real-time updates about the statuses of their orders. 

As mobile devices continue to evolve, app performance and mobile site optimization will be critical areas of focus for retailers. Shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices to browse for different product offerings. 

The completely integrated retail experience will continue to be important. Wineries need to focus on meeting and exceeding customers' needs to maintain DTC sales. 

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