This sponsored post is produced by SPS Commerce. 

An interview between Pete Zaballos and Zach Nelson

As we are finalizing plans for our 2014 Omnichannel conference taking place next week, Peter Zaballos, our VP of Marketing, had a chance to talk to with Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite and featured keynote speaker about the future of omnichannel.

Pete: In your speech, you plan on talking about how we’re entering a new era of retailing, not just online, but in the retail world everywhere. What do you mean by that?

Zach: We’re moving to a world where the consumers are setting the tempo of change. They’re dictating what’s happening in the retail world. It used to be that the retailers were the ones “in charge” of how things worked. But now, consumers are demanding things happen faster and in a more connected fashion. Consumers are now calling the shots, and that’s causing retailers and suppliers to reinvent their business processes and the supporting technology.

Pete: How so?

Zach: Consumers want a consistent shopping experience wherever and whenever they engage a retailer or supplier. That’s the challenge of omnichannel. Consumers want to be recognized wherever they encounter your brand — whether in physical stores, on a website on their laptop, in a branded mobile app or when speaking to someone in your call center. Apple forever changed the expectations of consumers – in-store Apple knows what you’ve bought regardless of channel. Now every retailer is challenged to provide that level of customer knowledge and engagement, and it goes well beyond just consistency of brand look-and-feel.

Pete: Can companies keep pace with the consumer?

Zach: Absolutely. Cloud technologies empower connected commerce, allowing retailers and suppliers to innovate as quickly as the consumers demand it. Legacy systems and proprietary systems just weren’t designed to support these new requirements. They were deployed in silos – one infrastructure stack for point of sale, another for ecommerce, another for call center. And even worse, the software within these silos was designed to actually prevent access from the external world where the new world requires accessibility anytime anywhere.

Pete: So how does cloud computing figure into omnichannel?

Zach: A unified system delivered via the cloud is the only way to implement an omnichannel strategy. Any strategy that calls for multiple back-end and customer systems to support multiple front-end touchpoints is doomed to fail in an omnichannel world where the consumer demands to be recognized and catered to. What is needed is a common back-end driven by order management, and the ability to store a complete record of each customer/consumer that feeds any front-end touchpoint – a point-of-sale touchpoint, an ecommerce touchpoint, a call-center touchpoint.

Zach Nelson will give the keynote address, “Retail is Dead, Long Live Retail!,” at our 2014 Omnichannel conference next Monday, May 5, at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, MN.