Victoria Dadson
Victoria Dadson 10 June 2016

UK Retailers are Failing at Omni-channel

UK retailers are falling behind their US counterparts when it comes to omni-channel capabilities.

The lack of data and technology capabilities was particularly stark, leading to the levels of personalisation offered by the UK retailers being “either not present at all or very, very poor.”

Continuing failure to keep up with developments in the industry doesn’t tend to end well – look at HMV, Blockbuster, Woolworths, BHS. In-store, online, m-commerce, apps, social commerce – retailers need to up their game when it comes to omni-channel retailing, or risk falling behind.

The new customer journey

Whether it’s failing to put the customer first, not providing consistent access to pricing, promotions and customer service, or struggling to use technology to create a Single Customer View, this study found that the US stores scored better than their UK counterparts in every criterion.With the number of channel options open to consumers continuing to increase, savvy consumers are using multiple channels simultaneously to create unique customer journeys that retailers aren’t prepared for.

Mobile shopping has soared, with the number of transactions made on a smartphone rising 96% in January 2016, according to IMRG. Ofcom finds that those with 4G connectivity are driving most of this change, and by 2017, 98% of houses should have access to 4G services.

That being said, whilst more retailer websites are visited by mobiles than any other channel, basket abandonment rates are far higher on smartphones than on a desktop, with as many as 90% of mobile baskets never making it through checkout (BBC, 2015).

Customer Insights

Retailers can’t provide an effective omni-channel customer experience without a deep knowledge of their customers and their paths to purchase. Far more than just basic demographic information, retailers need to turn to Big Data to get the insights they need across all channels.

The term “Big Data” is still a challenge for marketers, especially considering the technical skills gap faced by many marketing teams, but collected and managing this level of data isn’t difficult – there's plenty of software and services available that can manage this on a company's behalf.

CEM platforms can automatically sort and organise the huge amount of data to give you a range of actionable insights with the need for an in-house data scientist. From mapping out unique customer journeys and identifying pinch points to providing a Single Customer View that allows for more personalisation and better business decisions, this data lays the foundations for a successful omni-channel strategy.

Keeping it connected

One of the major obstacles facing not just retailers, but all businesses when it comes to omni-channel is managing all of the different touchpoints. CEM software can cover the tracking aspects, but each channel needs to present a consistent brand and experience to customers. With the amount of lazily recycled content in circulation online, one might think that businesses would have this covered, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

Teams need to ensure that the presented content supports each customer interaction and doesn’t contradict. There will be different requirements, strengths and benefits for different channels that will need to be taken into consideration and optimised for. Crucially, retailers need to strike the balance between providing their customers with a consistent experience and adapting their services for each channel.

One of the reasons why retailers are so frequently failing at this is that too many teams are split into silos, operating independently of each other. Separating staff into channel teams with little communication between departments will likely never lead to a truly seamless customer experience.

Make it convenient

The key to a successful customer experience is convenience. The easier it is for customers to get what they want, the happier (and more loyal) they’ll be.

One of the earliest examples of successfully connected channels are the “click & collect” services offered by many retailers. The convenience of the online shopping experience, combined with human interactions and without the need to wait inside for a delivery – it’s simple, but it’s a straightforward way of allowing customers to choose the journey that works best for them.

By learning how each individual customer chooses to interact with a business, it’s possible to serve up a truly unique experience for each customer using the combination of marketing automation and real-time personalisation that’s provided by a CEM platform. Whether it’s an in-store push notification triggered by a beacon, personalised recommendations or baskets carried across from mobile to desktop, there are a never-ending selection of opportunities for retailers to provide a connected, convenient journey for every one of their customers.

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