Customers today expect more—personalized, relevant services and products delivered consistently across all touch points at the lowest possible price. To respond effectively and provide customer centric retail experiences, retailers need a 720 degree view of each customer based on deep analytics that provide a comprehensive understanding of each customer’s needs, behavior, buying patterns, and level of influence. With this 720 degree view, retailers can predict future behaviors, quickly act on these insights, and deliver relevant offers and experiences.

A successful digital transformation strategy can help retailers leverage social media, mobile commerce, emerging technologies, analytics, and cloud-based services to build lifelong customer relationships, grow their businesses and cut costs, or be left behind by competitors that do.

Social media helps retailers engage more deeply and effectively with customers. Social media provides powerful insights into what customers want for the development of new, relevant products, services and marketing campaigns. Retailers can monitor feedback and provide real-time customer service. In addition, new social ecommerce opportunities such as Twitter ‘buy’ buttons also allow customers to purchase products via Tweets.

Mobile Commerce accounts for a significant percent of retail sales, enabling retailers to provide improved multi-channel shopping experiences that generate maximum ROI and loyalty. With a 720 degree view of each customer, retailers can offer customers the flexibility and personalized experiences they expect. Mobile apps for secure payment options, push notifications to let customers know of relevant special offers, beacons utilized for in-store purposes i.e. geolocation, targeted messaging and shopper analytics are just a few ways mobile commerce can help retailers deliver differentiated shopping experiences.

Customer Analytics provide retailers with deeper insights on preferences that can impact all areas of product management, allowing more informed decisions on pricing, marketing, inventory and supply chain management (SCM), and other areas. Analytics help retailers study transactions, footfalls, waiting times, personalized services, and website performance. It also helps determine how to best segment their most valuable customers.

Cloud-based solutions ensures the availability of real-time data across channels to enable informed decision-making throughout the retail enterprise—from the C-Suite to the sales associates on the front line.  Real time analytics help bridge the gap between digital and physical retail environments and allow management teams to spot sales trends as transactions occur.  The management can immediately identify and respond to traffic patterns in real time and view conversion rates at the product level.

Forward-thinking retailers will leverage social media, mobile commerce, customer analytics and cloud-based solutions to deliver customer centric experiences that build sustainable competitive advantage.

This article is published in collaboration with TATA Consultancy Services. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Kathleen Holm is Marketing Director of the TCS Digital Software & Solutions (DS&S) Group.

Image: A zoomed image of a computer monitor shows a website selling button clipart for online shops in Vienna November 27, 2013. REUTERS.