Study: Omnichannel customer experience far from seamless

Discussion
Mar 31, 2015

New research from Accenture finds retailers must significantly enhance their mobile and in-store shopping experiences to match the way shoppers want to deal with retailers across multiple sales channels.

According to a survey of 750 U.S. consumers, 32 percent said the biggest improvement retailers need to make in the shopping experience is to enable the use of all three sales channels — physical store, online and mobile — in an integrated way. Yet a separate analysis of 32 major retailers found tablet and mobile phone users are able to start shopping on their devices and complete the cycle in-store with only 22 and 19 percent of retailers, respectively.

An even larger 39 percent of consumers said the biggest improvement retailers need to make in the customer experience is in-store. Being able to order out-of-stock items while in-store and having access to free Wi-Fi were two services they wanted most in the U.S. and globally. However, only 42 percent of 189 retailers benchmarked globally provide the option for sales staff to order out-of-stock items for shoppers and only 28 percent of stores have free Wi-Fi.

Other findings from the U.S. research:

  • Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers would like to receive real-time promotions sent to their phones or tablet, yet only 28 percent of retailers currently have the capability to deliver that service.
  • Thirty-nine percent of consumers would take advantage of the opportunity to earn loyalty points and save money on their purchases with their mobile device.
  • Only 42 percent of shoppers found it easy to complete a purchase using a mobile device.
  • Thirty-six percent said they would order out-of-stock items via their mobile phone while in-store if they had that option.
  • An overwhelming majority (82 percent) of consumers expect a retailer’s prices to be the same in-store and online, a significant increase on the 69 percent in a similar survey last year. Only 34 percent of retailers had the same pricing in-store and online for more than 80 percent of the items assessed.
  • While all of the retailers assessed have mobile-optimized websites, only 53 percent have optimized their websites for tablets.

 

In which areas will retailers have the most difficulty delivering seamless cross-channel shopping experiences? Are the greatest hurdles technical, organizational or cultural?

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18 Comments on "Study: Omnichannel customer experience far from seamless"


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Debbie Hauss
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

First they need to be able to provide store associates and managers with real-time shopper data, then be sure the store employees are trained and motivated to interact with shoppers as brand advocates. The hurdles run the gamut from technical (budgeting and implementing the technologies needed to deliver an effective omnichannel experience), to organizational (putting together the right organizational structure in order to launch effective omnichannel strategies) and cultural (implementing effective change management and training practices).

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

None of the areas mentioned above are impossible. Probably the most difficult is the one consumers want the most, uniform pricing across channels, yet even this can be easily rectified by price matching. Retailers need to make a commitment to creating a true omnichannel experience. It’s want consumers want, and consumer demand for it will only grow, as will frustration with retailers that cannot deliver it.

Ben Ball
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

The biggest stumbling block might be inventory in-store. Relatively constant inventory availability, even of slow-moving items, will be difficult to provide. In-store “instant order” capabilities could help that by linking mobile devices to a shelf-tag scanner to place the order seamlessly.

Dave Wendland
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Creating a seamless, cross-channel shopping experience is a daunting task, especially given the shopper’s desire to be treated with a high degree of personalization. It is impossible to identify the greatest hurdles—technical, organizational, or cultural—since all are equally challenging. I guess if I had to choose one it would be cultural. The deciding factor for me is based on the fact that change is ALWAYS about people.

Ed Dunn
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

I’m very technology-focused, but in most cases all a retailer needs to do is call Mr. or Ms. Smith, introduce themselves as the sales associate and tell them their order is ready to pick up, delivering personal human-to-human service.

Most omnichannel solutions are focused too much on sending notifications to mobile phones instead of empowering retailers to have a better personal relationship with customers. I believe a good omnichannel solution focuses more on being a “wingman,” advising the retailer when and how to approach customers, rather than directly sending the customer text messages and beacon alerts.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

We don’t need Accenture to tell us that omnichannel shopping isn’t here yet. I’ve managed numerous dinner discussions this year where retailers have expressed their frustration at the number of process, technology and financial challenges they have to presenting a united front to customers. The smartest retailers will do whatever it takes to make the promise a reality.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

I am astonished! Only 42 percent of retailers provide the option for sales staff to order out-of-stock items for shoppers?! How can this be? Today what could be easier? Should every retailer be required to see Miracle on 34th Street?

Don’t we trust our staff? Are we too concerned that sales credit will go to a different store, or worse—to corporate? If the company is completely out of stock on the product the customer wants, should the sales associate order it for them from Amazon or a competitor? Even though they don’t get the sale, they do engender loyalty from the customer.

Is retailing about servicing ourselves or servicing the customer?

Liz Crawford
Guest
7 years 3 months ago
In an independent study we conducted at MATCH ShopLab we discovered that there are two fundamental disconnects between grocery and digital. First, most apps (from list-makers to mobile shopper cards) do not function well in-store. The apps are slow, cumbersome and there are problems with the wireless signals. Even many digitally-savvy Millennials will break down and use a paper list and load coupons to their key-chain shopper cards for this reason. Next, surprisingly, we found that two-thirds of shoppers didn’t realize that their grocery stores had mobile apps. OK, that was about 18 months ago. But seriously, grocery has a lot of eyeballs in-store, and those eyes aren’t looking at signs that inform them about the app. The easiest way to convert grocery shoppers to the retail app is to simply tell them about it while they are shopping in the store! Why should grocery care about converting shoppers to app-users? Because the shoppers who use the store app are significantly more likely to increase the number of trips to that store (reducing the “leakage”… Read more »
Marc Millstein
Guest
Marc Millstein
7 years 3 months ago

There is no single answer. There are many issues. Customer satisfaction numbers remain low but exploiting omnichannel, and I mean that in the best sense of the word, is a matter of understanding your shoppers and setting priorities that can be met. Having tablets is great, but not great if staff are poorly trained on how to leverage or worse how to interact. Certainly being able to order out-of-stock products from another store or warehouse is essential and a no-brainer in most cases. But it is so much a matter of strategic vision and what you want to “say” to the customer that counts. That comes first. Then determining best investments in an environment of constant change—next generation technology, shopper expectations, etc., will come into much more meaningful play.

Mark Heckman
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

As relevant content to the shopper becomes the mainstay of activating new customer touch points, many retailers are finding that disseminating offers and messages to shoppers on an individual basis becomes an insurmountable task.

It is vital for a top-down corporate strategy that involves a cogent plan to transition from a mass, single-channel approach to targeted omnichannel communications. That requires a thoughtful, iterative process that allows all aspects of the business to transition in unison, rather than taking ad hoc plunges into technology-driven communications as tests or experiments.

Lee Kent
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Since, thus far, most of us have agreed that we are somewhat unconfident that retailers will make major strides by this holiday season, I guess we can conclude it is a pretty daunting task.

Coming from a technology background, I can verify how big that job is. Simply getting one version of the truth and accurate inventory visibility is still way out there for many retailers. But, as we read yesterday, RFID is moving at break-neck speed.

Then the work begins. Knowing what the retailers customer is expecting from them. One size does not fit all. Retailers will need to align both the cultural and organization models to fit.

And folks, there is still one more component and that is B2E (Business 2 Employee). All three models will need to deliver to the employee in order to achieve success.

And that’s my 2 cents.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
7 years 3 months ago
To respond to a question that is based on a consulting firms survey, let’s use a two by two matrix and a Venn Diagram. Consulting slide 1, the Venn Diagram – In the Venn Diagram, lets have three circles, one is technical, the second organizational/cultural (combining these two hurdles,) and the third, to riff off of Cathy Hotka, the customer (we’ll conduct research on those people that come to our stores, why not?) is the intersection of these three, where you begin to solve the problem, and Accenture (or) the other consulting firms can help you jump start this process. The most difficult part will be leadership to make the move—that would be an arrow pointing into the center. Consulting slide 2 – the Two X Two – Let’s have degree of difficulty on the Y axis (low/high) and Let’s have Value on the X axis (low/high.) I am inclined to put Value to the customer vs. the organization on that axis, but that would also require social marketing skills (potentially another engagement/add-on) but let’s… Read more »
Doug Garnett
Guest
Doug Garnett
7 years 3 months ago

I look at this finding differently. What it says to me is that retailers need to take care to commit only where there’s big payback and to choose a narrow set of commitments so they can deliver exceptional services there. Consumer are far more likely to be disappointed with, for example, a mobile app that doesn’t help them than with the lack of a mobile app when they can still search using their mobile browser.

The risk in omnichannel is that it sets teams dashing off after every new theory that raises its head—only to deliver mediocre work their consumers ignore.

Martin Mehalchin
Guest
Martin Mehalchin
7 years 3 months ago

The biggest barriers we are seeing with clients are legacy systems and siloed, unstructured data. Getting to “seamless” requires integrating eCommerce and in-store systems and many retailers are hesitant to make further investment in legacy POS platforms that they may be planning to replace.

Also, cross-channel experiences can be much richer if the retailer “knows” who the customer is; their purchase history, their preferred sizing and styles etc. That kind of knowledge requires identity from .com log-ins to be tied to in-store transactions via order management. Many retailers have built their eCommerce business as a stand alone without this level of integration.

The Accenture survey shows that consumers want this and we’re finding that store associates are by and large ready and willing to serve their customers in this way. It’s now time for the backend to catch up.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Nothing new: 1) 100% In-stock online and offline, 2) Stress-free, accurate checkout online and offline 3) Differentiated services to compel the shopper to return versus the purchase decision based solely upon price… both online and offline.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
7 years 3 months ago
The problem with capturing the full potential of omnichannel is structured and ever expanding complexity, duality and redundancy. Omnichannel by its definitive nature is singular in design and simplicity in form and content. The practicality of ease of use combined with fast response times are a mandate that the consumer will not demote in their list of priorities. One product, one price and one customer selected method of contact for sale or service is and will remain the critical path to success for the “whole” company. Customers will not search seperate channels for a way to do business more than once or twice. Additionally the do not wish to learn how to do business with the company. It is the company that must make it easy for the consumer. Retailers must focus on what they are best at in terms of channeling and expand the existing business practice and systems into the world of omnichannel marketing. Trying to connect different and incompatible data files to and from one another is the reason for present day… Read more »
Arie Shpanya
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

I think there are a number of hurdles that retailers will have to get over in order to provide the experience that shoppers are hoping for. One of the biggest is pricing.

Pricing in-store is on its way to becoming dynamic, but retailers usually can’t change tags quite as fast as they can online. Maybe when employees scan an item, they should notify the shopper that they’ll be getting a discount if the price is lower online. But if the price is higher online, they won’t be notified and pay the original price that the price tag displays. Then this leads to the issue that online shoppers will be at a disadvantage this time around and the retailer will be missing out on that extra money.

The logistics just for uniform pricing are going to be tricky—and pricing is just one aspect of all the changes that need to be made!

Marina Kalika
Guest
Marina Kalika
7 years 3 months ago

One of the greatest hurdles is cross-organizational silos in most retail organizations. The digital channel leadership cares about the revenue in digital (eCommerce, online, web), while the brick and mortar store leadership cares mostly about the revenue in the store.

It is seldom that I come across the retailer that looks at the customer as a whole with a 360 degree view, without caring which channel they research on, engage on, purchase on, and seek support on.

The 21 century consumer does not care about channel, they care about the seamless consistent experience across channels. They want to engaged, served, get answers to their questions etc.—NOW, on what ever channel they happen to beat this moment. They want their details to be available and to be used by the agents, and they are not very pleased if they have to repeat their story every time they switch engagement channel. Watch this video for an example of seamless omni-channel experience.

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