Omnichannel commerce might be the new hot buzzword in the industry, but for merchants it's proving to be exceedingly difficult to implement.
A new study by Kibo, a cloud-based omnichannel platform, put 30 major retailers under its microscopic lens and found that a good 17 percent struggle to meet the omnichannel expectations of their customers.
Highspeed LTE Internet on mobile devices is changing consumer behavior far faster than retailers can grasp, it was found. While it's increasingly normal for consumers to expect services like, buy online and pickup in-store (BOPIS), it was found that only 37 percent of the surveyed major retailers had mobile apps that support special requests such as having a friend pick it up for them.
Some of the other key findings that reflect an emerging gap between consumer expectations and retailer omnichannel incompetence, include the following:
- Only 30 percent of retailers enabled text notifications for their customers.
- 25 percent of the retailers can't facilitate pickup within 24 hours.
- 50 percent of major retailers didn't have a strategy in place to make their consumer aware of their BOPIS service.
“I think what’s happening in retail is that everyone’s been honing in on this notion that the best retail experience is to allow the consumer to be in charge of the purchase,” said Bridget Johns, head of costumer experience at RetailNext, in an interview with Retail Dive. “Click-and-collect, or curbside, is a great way to extend loyalty to your customer. And I think if retailers stop pushing their own channel complex onto the consumer, it’s going to be a win for everyone.”
While some of the factors such as strong customer communication channel, proper sales associate training and the right technology play an important role, one of the biggest hurdles in the process was found to be inventory management.
John Thrailkill, the Container Store’s vice president of store systems and business development, pointed out that inventory is not always a retailer's foe and can be used to their strength if played right.
“The inventory thing was one of the things that has been one of our strengths over the years. We have an inventory-focused culture,” Thrailkill said. “So the beauty is that we have really good controls and awareness of making sure we have accuracy at all times. If I have eight of something in the store, I’m confident that I really will have eight. There’s no way to do [curbside] without having this really buttoned up.”