Multichannel vital for retailers but most deliver fractured strategy – study

23rd Mar 2012

Nearly all retailers recognise multichannel as vital for brand success during the economic crisis but most struggle to implement the same customer experience across all channels, new research has shown.

Customer insight agency SMG surveyed over 100 British retailers and found a huge 98% of retailers claim a broader multichannel strategy is still vital to remain competitive in the current market, according to the figures. Additionally, the study showed 77% of respondents claimed to pursue a multichannel strategy to drive an increase in sales but highlighted lack of uniformity across channels as a growing concern.

Over two thirds of retailers claim their multichannel strategies currently do not deliver the same customer experience across all channels, with 66% recognising that this affects customer loyalty but not playing this out in practice.

However, the study revealed that in-store experience remains a top priority with 65% of retailers claiming their in-store experience defines their brand, and over half admitting it is the most profitable channel. Additionally, over two thirds of retails believe in-store delivers the highest level of customer service, although accept that levels vary across different channels, said the study.

Jeremy Michael, MD at SMG, commented: “To operate the most effective multichannel strategy, retailers need to develop an omnichannel approach. This requires the alignment of multichannel solutions to deliver a consistent customer experience that supports brand values and creates loyal customers that not only return, but also recommend. Without this the opportunity to create absolute loyalty amongst consumers, is falling flat and jeopardising the potential for return sales.”

According to the survey, retailers are also failing to take advantage of the insight a multichannel approach provides. The majority of respondents (79%) recognised that using multichannel data to track customer behavior would help them to understand purchasing decisions and 65% recognise they can use such data to nurture customer loyalty. Yet, in reality less than two-thirds actively practiced tracking of their customers.

Michael added: “In order to capitalise on multichannel as a means to drive sales, retailers need an in-depth understanding of their customers to fine-tune their strategies and deliver a high level of customer service. By using data to track customer behaviour retailers have access to vital details pertaining to the customer’s purchasing history, requirements and expectations. Using this they can deliver the perfect customer service, tailored to their feedback.”

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