New year, fresh approach – January is a time for retailers to take stock (maybe literally, certainly figuratively) and think about how to address the challenges that the coming year throws at them as they move to the omnichannel world.

To best address those challenges, they need some foresight as to what they are most likely to be. But before retailers reach out for the (somewhat unreliable) crystal ball, they should read on… iVend Retail surveyed consumers across Australia and New Zealand, to understand their perceptions of the omnichannel shopping experience, their concerns, their likes and dislikes.

The opinions of these consumers gives us the best possible insight into the challenges that retailers will need to address if they are to win the hearts, minds and wallets of these omnichannel shoppers.

Challenge #1 – Single view of inventory

“Click and collect”, “Buy online, collect in-store”, “Clicks and Mortar” – whatever we call it, it’s growing. As consumers refuse to be restricted to a single channel for their purchases, the hybrid transaction is becoming more and more prevalent. Of those we surveyed, up to 40% said they have ordered online for collection in-store; up to 48% have ordered in-store for home delivery and up to 27% have ordered from one store and collected at another.

Providing fast and efficient consumer service across all these possible buying patterns poses a real challenge to retailers – many of them have legacy inventory systems designed for a pre-omni-channel world and which see stock information in silos. The supply chain, from warehouse, to transport logistics, to store cannot act seamlessly unless retailers have a single view of inventory – the ability to view stock as a single pool, optimised to provide the best service to consumers, however they buy and fulfil.

Challenge #2 – 360 degree loyalty

Long-term relationships with shoppers are based on loyalty and brand advocacy – building a base of consumers who not only prefer your brand, but tell others how much they love it. Australians and New Zealanders love to be engaged with brands – 85% of our survey respondents are members of at least one loyalty scheme and up to 15% are members of more than five. Smart retailers know that understanding an individual customer’s buying patterns is essential, but many still struggle to offer the same benefits across all channels. Systems based on physical loyalty cards don’t operate across all channels and only 30% of shoppers feel that they get the same rewards in-store and online.

If retailers are to move to omni-channel, the challenge in 2017 is to understand the customer’s lifetime value in 360 degrees – however they shop across the full range of channels.

Challenge #3 – Personalisation

Online does personalisation really well. In an online environment, the retailer knows the shopper; their purchase history, their social media recommendations, their loyalty status, their preferred products and store.

The third big challenge of 2017 will be to extend online knowledge into the store and develop omni-channel personalisation. Shoppers walking into a store might as well be invisible for all the retailer knows about them, and many stores cannot distinguish a first time visitor from a high value regular.

Consumers in our survey had strong ideas about how they want to be seen – up to 62% consider it important that the retailer has a single view of them, regardless of how they shop and up to 31% would love physical stores to know more about their online purchasing and use it to improve their instore experience. Overall, online is seen a more personalised experience than in-store, and the challenge for retailers is to redress that balance.

Download the full iVend Retail’s survey report “The era of unlimited shopping possibilities” here.

Talk to us about how CitiXSys’ iVend omni-channel retail software suite can help meet your omni-channel challenges in 2017.

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