The “seamless brand experience” across channels is an ideal among multichannel retailers, but one that is hard won, according to [download page] RSR Research in a November 2012 report. Asked to name their top 3 operational challenges, 59% of retailers surveyed pointed to coordination with other channels to create a seamless brand experience. Next most-common (52%) was optimizing inventory deployment across all channels, while understanding and accommodating how different consumer segments engage was third (49%).
Interestingly, the most successful multichannel retailers suffer the most pain in this area, reveals “The Multi-Channel Retailer’s Reality in a Post-Amazon World.” 71% of “Double-digit Winners,” whose annual year-over-year growth is 10% or higher, identified channel coordination as their leading challenge. By comparison, only 47% of laggards (growth under 3%) cited the same challenge. As the researchers posit, “this dramatically underlines how much Winners understand their multiple channels can be leveraged as a real and differentiating strength from online-only powerhouses – providing they can one day execute.”
The data suggests that laggards’ priorities are far out of step with those of Double-digit Winners, and possibly misguided. 40% of laggards cite coordinating e-commerce prices and promotions across channels as a challenge, versus 29% of Winners. This suggests that Winners have more successfully integrated e-commerce operations across the enterprise while laggards keep e-commerce siloed.
Laggards should be wary of underestimating the opportunity in e-commerce, and consumers’ demand for it. US online retail spending reached $41.9 billion during Q3 2012, a 15% increase over Q3 2011, found comScore. That marks the 12th consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and 8th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates.
Laggards lack the budgets for e-commerce that Double-digit Winners have, finds RSR. 54% of laggards cited budgeting challenges as a top 3 organizational challenge, compared to just 14% of Double-digit Winners. The smallest retailers are more challenged than larger retailers, with 60% versus 14% citing overall budgetary constraints to e-commerce.
Other top-3 organizational challenges relate to technology and ROI: 53% of all respondents feel that their existing technology infrastructures prevent them from moving forward in e-commerce, and 48% cite difficulty in quantifying return on investment (ROI). 27% report that brick-and-mortar stores are a higher investment priority.
How to overcome these organizational inhibitors? The need appears to be one dedicated leader to spearhead e-commerce, using a strong technology platform. Asked to indicate the top-3 ways to overcome their organizational inhibitors, 57% named investment in a streamlined technology platform or infrastructure. 51% also named an executive tasked with managing and improving the overall customer experience.
Tied for a distant third place (each cited by 36%) are more coordination with marketing, and more coordination with stores.
Large retailers put more of a priority on an improved infrastructure than do small retailers (67% vs. 47%). Similarly, small retailers place a higher priority upon solutions that don’t burden their information technology (IT) departments (32% vs. 12% among larger retailers).
About The Data: RSR conducted an online survey from August – October 2012 and received answers from 97 qualified retail respondents across an array of products sold, and at all scales of revenue.
Subscribe now to receive more charts and articles like this each day in your inbox. A fast read in a clean, mobile-friendly design.