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Omnichannel trend set to explode but can retailers keep up?

6th Oct 2013
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Omnichannel is set to become more than a buzzword with new research revealing consumers' growing appetite to shop over multiple channels, but can retailers meet these changing expectations?

According to SAP’s survey of over 2,000 UK online shoppers, nearly half of shoppers (44%) said that they expect to purchase over more than one channel within five years’ time.

Additionally, 70% said that they have a better customer experience when they can choose how they purchase whilst a further three quarters claimed that being able to use different channels cohesively (in store, online, mobile) is important.

However, despite this growing appetite for an omnichannel experience, the survey showed that just 15% of customers feel extremely satisfied that retailers provide a consistent experience across different channels.

Chris Osborne, industry principle for Retail, SAP UK and Ireland, said: “What must be a top consideration for retailers today is to ensure that customers can shop across multiple channels and still enjoy a consistent and cohesive experience; ensuring the option to purchase through their preferred route is simple and cost-effective.  Understanding this trend will help retailers to retain custom even if purchases are not necessarily made in store.”

So how exactly do shoppers want to engage with brands across multiple channels? According to SAP’s study, omnichannel shoppers can be segmented into three different categories, which retailers must understand and target appropriately.

The three types of omnichannel shoppers were outlined as being:

  • Omni-enthusiasts (13%): who believe the use of different channels through which to purchase is crucial;
  • Omni-hesitants (22%):  they don’t regard the use of multiple channels to be of significant importance; and
  • Omni-followers (62%): who believe the ability to use different channels interchangeable to be ‘quite important’

The findings also showed that 72% of respondents expect to be able to research, shop, receive goods and receive customer services in whatever way they choose – with that figure rising to 83% amongst omni-enthusiasts.

The survey also examined consumers’ attitude to sharing personal data with retailers and found a staggering 96% of shoppers expect information to be collected about them, with the top three cited as online purchase history (65%), payment details (60%), and in store purchase history (43%).

However nearly two third of respondents (62%) of shoppers believe their personal data is being invaded either often or sometimes by retailers and, according to 79% of respondents, the way in which retailers use customer information needs to become more transparent.

Osborne added: “The only way to understand these differences is to analyse the mounds of customer data each channel gathers during every purchase. The challenge is how you can then join the data up to achieve a holistic view of the customer.”


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