Woman online shopping researching
 A current benchmark report from RSR tells an interesting story about multi-channel retailing.  Retailers are beginning to come to grips with the value of multi-channel retailing. Those who connect with shoppers through multiple selling channels are more profitable than organisations who don’t. While this complicates the path to purchase for retailers, consumers view their shopping experience in a much different way.
The Omni-Channel 2013: The Long Road to Adoption report conclusively states the biggest challenge to retailers remains how to merge the digital and physical selling worlds into a single, seamless shopping experience. More than half the respondents admitted to not having a single view of their customers across all their channels. This is problematic for retailers as shopping behaviour has quickly surpassed many retailers’ ability to keep pace.
Top 3  inhibitors to omni-channel retailing from RSR report

Consumers are fickle

Shoppers expect a consistent experience regardless of the channel they use. Modern consumers don’t recognise channels and quickly become discouraged if they see inconsistencies. A solid brand with great in-store customer service quickly loses it’s lustre if the website works poorly on a mobile device or promotions are represented differently online and offline.

Encouragingly, retailers have accepted mobile technologies as a necessary and important part of the new world of retail. However, they’re focused more on making their current digital properties ‘mobile friendly’ instead of really embracing mobile applications. Retail winners of the future will be those who address the changing habits of the consumer instead of trying to modify traditional operations and selling strategies. How has shopping changed?

Shopping is still done in the store

New research by Roy Morgan provides interesting insight.  Online shopping may be at an all-time high but shoppers are not necessarily buying online. Much of the digital activity in retail has more to do with research than with purchasing. This is an incredibly important distinction because shoppers expect what they find online to match what they experience in the store. If there’s a discrepancy between your online and offline communications, the consumer is less likely to purchase. Marketing and merchandising in the omni-channel world need to be unified and executed seamlessly for the consumer.

Retailers are too focused on channels

But while the consumer is demanding a seamless shopping experience, retailers are still too focused on channel attribution. Instead of trying to figure out the ROI of an online campaign or splitting attribution of a sale across multiple channels, retailers would be better off addressing the many ways the shopper might want to engage with the organisation.

What this means for retailers

Retailers are faced with aligning their offline and online shopping experience into a single ‘brand’ experience. The in-store communications channel is becoming the most important channel as shoppers are doing their research online but making their actual purchases in the store. If your store promotions and retail ticketing don’t support what customers are finding online, your ability to conclude a sale is greatly hampered. Retailers must take a holistic view of all their channels to be the most effective. The RSR report sums it up nicely, saying retailers should, “stay focused on the total customer experience across all selling environments by first designing the Brand Experience across all channels, determining the role of digital in the total experience, and aligning the organization to the Brand, not “channels”.

If you feel like your in-store communications is not as good as it could be, why not give SignIQ a call?

What are your challenges with omni-channel retailing?