Stores to play key role in omni-channel strategy

Retailers are trying to provide a seamless experience across different points of customer engagement, to achieve the same level of service, promotions and pricing, according to the study by market research and strategy company Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC).

PAC interviewed senior business and IT stakeholders at 200 large retailers in Europe. It found that while three quarters of respondents say the physical store will become more strategically important, the majority also say mobile and online channels to play a bigger role in the future. This highlights how the issue of managing and integrating multiple channels has become a hugely important success factor for modern retailers.

One of the clearest findings of the study is that retailers are at different stages of maturity in achieving an omni-channel strategy, with regional differences. These include:

  • 85% of German retailers expect the store to become more strategically important vs. 62% in the UK.
  • 60% of retailers in the Netherlands already use their physical stores as a collection point for online orders vs. only 30% in France and Germany.
  • 70% of UK retailers track increases in Net Promoter Score as a key measure of the success of their omni-channel strategy, vs. 56% in Italy.

The study, supported by HP, Fujitsu, SAP and GK Software, found that it is business leaders, rather than IT departments that are generally leading omni-channel programs. More than 80% said the development of a long-term channel strategy was either a major or clear challenge, while 75% named transforming internal organisation structures as a pressing concern. For most retailers, business challenges rather than I.T. issues create the biggest challenges to success.

However, almost 50% of retailers plan significant IT investment in the next two years to support their omni-channel strategies. Main areas of spend include: webshop systems, mobile shopping apps and online/mobile payment software.

Nick Mayes, principal analyst at PAC, said: “The findings of the study show that European retailers are at very different stages of their journey towards omni-channel. But it is very encouraging to find that so many see it as a business as much as an IT challenge, and that strategy is being led in many cases from the boardroom.”

The study can be downloaded free of charge from PAC’s website:

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