Whether we work in the retail industry or not, we all are consumers and therefore we all have stories to tell about our good and bad shopping experiences.
Unfortunately for retailers, consumers seemingly are much quicker to share their bad news stories. I attend a number of industry conferences and events every year and inevitably I hear personal accounts of retailers’ struggle to meet shoppers’ omnichannel demands.
Much of the time these stories center around retailers’ inability to connect the data dots from one channel to another. If I order something online, when I go into the store they should know about it, right? But so often they don’t know about anything I do outside the confines of the store.
My most recent personal issue centered around a home improvement retailer (you can guess but I’ll leave it nameless). I ordered a carpeting measurement online and was told that I needed to go into the store to complete the order. But upon entering the carpeting department in the store I found out that my account had been created in a different store and it was not transferrable. Enough said.
With the holidays approaching, it is essential that retailers move the needle on their omnichannel capabilities. Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results has stated this clearly in the recently published Retail TouchPoints Holiday Guide: “Consumers don’t separate channels — they don’t differentiate mobile from Web or in-store experiences. To them, it’s one brand, regardless of channel. Many retailers forgot this last year and still struggle, because of their efforts to ‘optimize’ each channel independently.”
Mobile will be the key to bringing the channels together. “Any retailer that does not embrace mobile commerce will have a tough time maintaining long-term profitability,” said Al Ferrara, Partner and National Director of the Retail and Consumer Products Practice at BDO USA. “Over the last two years, retailers have made significant investments in mobile commerce, and retailers will continue to see increasing volumes in this channel.”
The facts are clear: 79% of smartphone owners are “smartphone shoppers” and 84% of all shoppers are using their mobile devices to help them shop while inside the store, according to a recent study of more than 1,500 smartphone owners, conducted by Google.
As an editor covering the retail industry, and as a consumer, I am rooting for the retail industry to succeed in bringing a successful omnichannel customer experience to shoppers during the 2013 holiday season and beyond.
Debbie Hauss is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail TouchPoints. Retail TouchPoints offers daily news, multimedia interviews, exclusive research and a weekly newsletter, delivered digitally via www.retailtouchpoints.com. Debbie has been tapping into the pulse of the retail industry, and retail technology for a number of years, previously as the Managing Editor of RIS News. Debbie can be reached at email@example.com.