Ember in Retail

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Dependable Service Excellence for Diverse Consumer Interactions

From embracing omnichannel to rethinking outsourcing to optimising processes and resource management, Ember’s commercial acumen and strategic consultancy has helped the UK’s leading retail brands enhance their customer management.
The proliferation of sales and service channels has transformed the retail landscape, but some things remain the same. Retail success still depends on the customer experience, in store, online, on the move; from initial browsing through purchase to delivery and returns. And with constant pressure on price, the onus is on businesses to eliminate unnecessary costs, particularly at times of lower demand.
Ember’s team of customer management specialists have helped a host of leading retailers address these issues. Our clients range from established brands with an extensive store footprint and burgeoning multichannel offer, to “digital native” retailers, and by combining unflinchingly commercial analysis with deep customer insight, we deliver tangible results.

Delivering a consistent omnichannel experience

Omnichannel is no longer an option: it’s an everyday fact. But as the best in the business have recognised, that doesn’t mean all channels are equal. Instead, retailers must evaluate each channel and work out how it can best be used to support their broader strategy – and the customer experience they want to provide.
Today, that typically means looking beyond the debate of instore vs online and focusing instead on crucial supporting processes: delivery and returns, including the use of third-party collection points, effective personalisation – including in-store – based on optimal use of customer data, while still reflecting the brand.

Optimising resource use across channels and peaks in demand

In an omnichannel world, where sales can be completed without any employee involvement, the role of retail staff is changing. They remain a vital part of the in-store experience, but when footfall is low, how can you make the most of your human resources? The answer lies in smarter analysis of sales patterns, across channel, to understand demand – and looking at ways to use skilled staff across multiple channels.

Rethinking outsourcing

In the constant balance between price and profit, retailers are increasingly attuned to opportunities to reduce costs of non-core services. That’s putting outsourcing back at the top of the agenda – particularly in areas like the contact centre, logistics and fulfilment.
In the past, however, many retailers found low-cost outsourcing detrimental to their reputation. Third parties didn’t deliver a service that matched customer expectations of the brand. Today’s more differentiated outsourced services can remove that risk, but they still require retailers to define the standards they want and upskill outsourced teams accordingly.

Operating Model

In each of these areas above, Ember has helped leading retailers deliver on an important part of their strategy to improve their customer experience while driving efficiencies. To have the maximum impact, we advise our clients to develop a target operating model – a rich vision of the way they want to operate that can and should drive and inform every decision – that is designed as an optimum operating model that facilitates ongoing change without disrupting the business. From deployment, or redeployment, of the organisation’s resources, to investment in new channels or technologies, to culture and staffing, this vision and its guiding priorities becomes the organisation’s ‘North Star’ – a target around which, everything else can be considered and contextualised. Having helped retailers define their North Star vision in the light of new competition, emerging technology or customer feedback, Ember can then provide the focused support to reach it.
Download our Ember in Retail overview for more information