The development of omni-channel retailing continues to be on the rise and is a top three business priority for 60% of executives, a recent survey by Retail Week and Kurt Salmon shows. However, there is a divergence between the firm’s priorities and in how far they have developed their onmi-channel capacities, with only 5% having a complete onmi-channel process. Customers too continue to demand an omni-channel shopping environment, looking for both cheaper deals and convenience.
In a recently released report from Retail Week, in association with management consulting firm Kurt Salmon, titled ‘Retail 2015: Definitive intelligence on the state of the industry, from the leaders in UK retail’, the changing environment in the UK retail sector is explored. The report discusses the results of a survey of 25 retail executives, with questions ranging over economic issues facing retailers’ core business and changes expected within the industry over the coming year. One issue highlighted is the move toward multi- and omni-channel customer engagements.
Investing in the omni-channel
Long gone now are the days in which shopping happened in brick and mortar. The internet heralding in the store website, then the online store, and now mobile, all of which have opened further channels to potential and returning customers. While retailers have started to take advantage of the changes, the survey results show that retailers believe they need to do more towards developing a wide range of channels to meet customer demand, with investment in omni-channel proliferation the key to this years’ investment strategy for retailers. In terms of priorities, omni-channel development is in the top three for 60% of respondents and has the highest aggregate score at 37%.
Understanding the omni-channel
While companies are investing in developing a multi- or omni-channel approach to engage their customers and meet the expectation of those customers, there is divergence among firms in how far they have developed their capacities to exploit information they have on customers and their stock levels across channels. With the central reasons to develop a single view of customers and stock being to create integrated interpretations of their customers’ behaviour across the channels and to know stock levels on the shop floor as well as online.
In terms of the single view of customers and stock only 19% responded that they had achieved this goal, while 57% said they had developed a single view of stock but not of their customers and 14% said they had a single view of customers and not of stock. Only 10% responded that they had neither a single view of stock of customers. One in five firms (19%) expects to achieve both single views in the next 12 months.
In terms of how much progress firms have made towards the omni-channel, only 5% say the process was complete, while 52% say they had made ‘some progress’ and 29% report having made ‘significant progress’. All surveyed firms have made at least some progress as none said to have no or very little progress made.
The consumers’ omni-channel experience
The report also looked at the reasons customers engage through multiple channels to reach retailers and the competitive demand it places on the retailers. Clothes shoppers note priorities for shopping online as convenience (being able to show whenever) at 40%, followed by cheaper prices at 38%, speed to finding the requisite product also ranks highly, important for 27% of those surveyed. In terms of demands on retailers, 32% of consumers found good photographs as important, click-and-collect was important for 13% and not having to interact with staff is seen as important to 7%.