As an industry, retail is constantly bench marking performances. How do we compare against other stores or channels? Against competitors? Against international regions? This is no bad thing – striving to be better than the rest will only improve the overall customer experience – but sometimes it’s difficult to gain a clear picture of exactly what the market looks like.

That’s precisely why iVend Retail recently commissioned a research survey, asking 1,000 European shoppers and 1,000 consumers in the North America about their attitudes to omnichannel engagement, and where the store fits into an increasingly digitized retail experience.

Our international study revealed some common themes across the board. Consumers don’t think in terms of channel, for example; they interact with retailers and brands through the touch point that’s most convenient to them at that moment in time. Also, convenience is a critical concern, with 6 in 10 shoppers across both continents admitting that ecommerce fits in with their busy lives more than bricks-and-mortar shopping.

However, there are some marked differences in attitudes, which point towards Europe offering a stronger omnichannel experience, particularly in the store environment.

Firstly, around three quarters (72%) of European consumers do the majority of their shopping in a store, compared to just 57% of North American shoppers. Given that the average online spend per head is higher in UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy than the U.S. and Canada, according to Digital Strategy Consulting data, this indicates that the results are not due to ecommerce immaturity.

Therefore, it stands to reason that customers keep returning to the store in Europe because retailers are providing a satisfying customer experience.

Another area where European omnichannel commerce excels in comparison is fulfilment. The UK especially has become the ‘poster boy’ for click-and-collect – our survey revealed that 79% of British consumers have used the service, compared to 60% of U.S. and 51% of Canadian shoppers. And only 20% of European shoppers expressed frustration with the collection process in-store, compared to 29% of North American consumers.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that this isn’t the story across the whole continent; Germany only has 29% click-and-collect penetration, for instance, and thus further work is needed to educate the market.

So what do these two scenarios tell us about Europe’s omnichannel maturity?

On a surface level, it’s positive. As a continent, we’re doing pretty well at connecting the dots between retail touchpoints. The store still has a place in the hearts and wallets of European consumers, and retailers are successfully incorporating services like click-and-collect to increase bricks-and-mortar’s relevance within an omnichannel context.

However, there is still ground for the European retail industry to cover in order to keep offline shoppers truly satisfied. 1 in 5 consumers we surveyed said they would like the store to give them a more personalized experience like they receive online. Yet most organizations lack the data insights to know who each customer is when they walk through the door, or the connected technology to integrate that data into their bricks-and-mortar interactions.

With this in mind, it’s fine for us to pause for a moment and congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come, but this should only be a short stop to catch our breath. There’s still a long way to travel up the omnichannel mountain, and no region is anywhere near the summit just yet.

For further insights into Europe’s omnichannel challenges, sign up for iVend’s webinar with the British Retail Consortium on how to drive store performance on 17th February at 1:00pm.

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