Retailers are Lagging Badly at Omnichannel Commerce

As we’ve previously explored, the future of retail will involve advanced online services and secure digital identity tools. But in the here-and-now, many retailers are struggling to bridge physical and digital commerce. At least, that’s the conclusion that comes courtesy of the Mobile Retail Report - Omnichannel Edition from Newstore.

Newstore is a new venture by Demandware founder Stephen Schambach, launched in late 2016 to provide an enterprise platform for mobile commerce, specifically in the apparel, lifestyle and luxury categories.  It’s aimed at helping brands create apps and mobile shopping experiences so they can capitalize on consumers’ increasing demand for seamless integration between in-store and online shopping experiences.

Their report relates the results of a study where Newstore had mystery shoppers visit 140 iconic luxury, lifestyle, and apparel brands. The researchers followed a typical customer journey, using both mobile and physical channels to determine if, as the report puts it, “retailers have been able to successfully overcome those pesky organizational and technological silos to deliver a consistent and compelling customer shopping experience.”

Nine key capabilities

They examined nine areas where retailers could take advantage of consumers’ omnichannel shopping behaviors, the latter indicated by metrics gathered from sources like Forrester, Experian and others. The results?

In-store inventory visibility: According to Forrester, for instance, 41% of retailers who’ve enabled inventory visibility have seen significant positive impact on in-store revenues.  But only 30% of the brands checked by Newstore were actually enabling this tactic.

Online purchase, in-store pick-up: 65% of consumers who buy online and pick up goods in-store buy additional items when they visit the store to pick up their orders.  Yet a mere 18% of retailers visited in the study were letting shoppers “buy digital, retrieve physical.”

In-store appointment scheduling: When shoppers visited brick-and-mortar stores after making an appointment online, 60% of the sales generated through those appointments resulted in a 20% increase in upselling. However, only 11% of the surveyed retailers allowed shoppers to schedule an in-store visit.

Clienteling: 73% of customers prefer buying from brands that employ personal data about them to make the shopping experience more relevant. But only 19% of the retailers in the study allowed store associates to access any kind of omnichannel customer profile.

Inventory visibility for other stores: 27% of consumers say they’d be very likely to leave and visit another brand’s store if a product is out of stock. In spite of that, just 21% of retailers allowed shoppers to view inventory at their other stores via mobile.

Endless aisle: Retailers that use endless aisle strategies, where shoppers can buy items from another store or ecommerce site to “save the sale,”  generate  between 1% and 10% of a store’s revenue. But only 13% of the brands researched by Newstore were doing this.

In-store product recommendations & upselling: 70% of consumers said they wanted in-store recommendations from associates equipped with mobile devices. That’s a big opportunity, which makes the fact that only 1% – yes, you read that right, 1% – of retailers in the survey took advantage of it.

Shared shopping cart visibility: 34% of consumers and 43% of retailers say shared carts for online and in-store purchases is the most important cross- channel capability. But Newstore found only a paltry 7% of stores had actually implemented this.

Personalized follow-up: Using email and push notifications that leverage location or purchase history drive higher engagement. Personalized emails, for instance, net transaction rates six times higher than non-personalized ones. Sadly, though, only 3% of retailers in the survey were sending out personalized follow-ups.

Omnichannel success needs identity management

The report makes it shockingly apparent that even established retailers and retail brands aren’t keeping pace with shopper expectations. Part of that owes to outmoded technologies, especially when it comes to customization of the retail experience, whether they’re spending their cash online or on foot.

Identity management will be a key tool in making this possible for omnichannel retailers. For a consumer to enjoy frictionless interaction across multiple channels, and for retailers to protect personal data and avoid fraud while doing it, a single identity for every shopper has to be available across all devices, services and situations.

Adopting identity management is a cornerstone strategy, therefore, for any retailer hoping to keep up with tech advances like the Internet of Things. Or the demand from consumers for precise personalization at every point in their purchase journey, no matter where it takes them.