Brick-and-mortar retail has gone through tremendous change over the past few decades. Consumers are demanding more—more options, more transparent pricing, and more customization. And, this trend is only accelerating.
Evidence of this movement can easily be seen in the hundreds of millions of SKUs available from online retailers, as well as the ability to order custom-printed pictures and messages on everyone’s favorite hard-shelled candy. This trend isn’t just limited to consumer packaged goods and household products, however, and we at Two Roads Consulting are leveraging technology to drive similar changes in the market for durable goods.
Remove the Inefficiencies for Better Sales
Many durables manufacturers typically make their products to stock, then ship their goods to retail locations where customers make their purchase. If any product options are offered, they are usually pre-built into the goods, and consumers who are looking for a specific product package face the shoe-leather cost of visiting multiple retailers to find what they’re looking for.
This classic matching problem results in lost sales, as consumers give up on their search for the perfect product, or settle for a next-best available package that may not include all of the options they were willing to pay for (see this research paper from Stanford University for more on the matching problem).
While this type of inefficiency has existed for decades, we’re helping to develop and implement new technologies that streamline the sales process, improve customer value, and maximize our clients’ revenue. Working with one durable goods manufacturer in particular, we’ve led the creation of new web applications that integrate their manufacturing facilities, finance companies, and affiliate retailers.
In short, we’ve helped this company transform its operations by equipping retail outlets with the right information at the right time and in the right place.
How We Streamlined the Sales Process: One Step at a Time
Bringing disparate systems together in a customer-centric web app has allowed consumers to find and customize products, and even secure financing if needed. The result is increased customer satisfaction, maximized revenue for the manufacturer, and time saved for everyone.
Implementing this solution hasn’t been without its challenges, though. We’ve had to help this client navigate multiple headwinds.
First, we had to integrate multiple systems and secure applications from entities such as manufacturing, financing, and retailing. Creating a platform that would allow these systems to integrate with one another was a complex challenge. We helped our client successfully resolve these problems by leading efforts to enhance, re-platform, and modernize these necessary applications.
Second, there was the complex sticking point of data security. With our new system collecting financial data from customers, we worked closely with our client to ensure that they were using the latest data encryption and security technology to keep private data just that – private.
Finally, we needed a plan to roll out this new technology out to the network of affiliated retailers, but we had to pivot when the pandemic left us in a remote work environment. As a program, we had to expand our own digital capabilities, including new collaboration tools and online training modules. We developed a fully remote implementation process to educate individual retailers on the benefits of this technology, and set up comprehensive roll-out support teams to facilitate its deployment.
Doing Business Today Requires Strong Digital Capabilities
In the end, we were able to navigate all of the challenges posed by this massive initiative. We have successfully rolled the solution out to over 200 dealers, including over 20 luxury brand dealers, with new dealers signing up every week. We now rank as the number one retailing solution for our dealers. But we’re not stopping there—not by a long shot.
Coming out of the pandemic, certain digital capabilities have become table stakes as so many industries have had to adapt to customer demands. Who doesn’t love going to the grocery store and having your entire order loaded into your car? Or “visiting” your doctor online and having a prescription delivered to your house? And now that customers are used to these digitally-enabled experiences it will take even more to differentiate.
We’re continuing to implement our rollout strategy, and also working with the manufacturer to bring additional functionality (such as insurance and vehicle delivery) to their sales solution. Furthermore, our team has applied these digital capabilities and lessons learned to develop an all new product for vehicle service. We are in the early stages of piloting this solution, but we are already seeing significant results: increased revenue per repair order, improved shop efficiency, and higher customer satisfaction.
Digital capabilities create flexibility in how our clients do business with their customers, ensuring that they can evolve, adapt, survive, and stand out. These efforts will continue to personalize and streamline the customer experience in retail, and we look forward to further transforming how this client does business.