Time Still for Omnichannel Evolution

Time Still for Omnichannel Evolution

Saturday, November 21 2015


By Evan Clark

There are still opportunities for retailers to get their omni on.

That’s because most merchants are just in the early stages of bringing together their online and offline offerings and have plenty of room to improve in both areas, according to a report from McKinsey & Co. titled, “Mind the gap: What really matters for apparel retailers in omnichannel.”

The consultancy surveyed 3,000 women shoppers in the U.K. and asked them about their behavior and purchases at 17 different retailers and supplemented those findings with research from over 100 mystery shopper trips.

The study showed that although the retail industry “assumes the consumer is already shopping in an omnichannel mode,” most customers take an either/or approach, with 74 percent buying offline and 19 percent buying online.

“When it comes to an individual retailer, only 15 percent of consumers visit both channels to inform their purchases,” McKinsey said. “Remarkably, this means that for most retailers, the majority of their consumers still only experience them through one channel; they are not yet omnichannel shoppers.”

Other research has showed that more purchases are informed by Web in some way.

There has been a desire by some to move beyond the idea of omnichannel retailing, but the term is still widely used in the industry.

“At an individual retailer level, consumers tend to choose one preferred channel, and retailers’ business processes are still optimized for that channel,” the study showed. “For apparel retailers, this means that the majority of their consumers still experience them either offline or online.”

McKinsey recommended retailers focus on improving the fundamentals at each channel.

“In order to succeed online, retailers will need to ensure they have mastered delivery and collection, engineered ease and convenience into their stores and Web sites and streamlined returns processes across channels,” the report said. “For offline, priorities include basic in-store hospitality and ‘rescue the sale’ measures which need to be brought up to scratch.”

The consultancy argued that fixing these fundamentals will give retailers a stronger foundation as they look to bring the online and offline worlds together.

“It’s not too late,” McKinsey said. “Our research shows that consumers have not rushed in adopting omnichannel behavior, and no retailer is miles ahead of the rest on delivering it. So there’s time to hunker down and fix the basics, but it will be important to do so quickly, as the omnichannel tide is coming.”


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