Only 8% of retailers have 'mastered' omnichannel

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Dive Brief:

  • More than 90% of retailers and brands have an omnichannel strategy or plan to invest in one soon, but very few of them appear to be confident that they have mastered omnichannel or have the right strategy in place, according to a report from Brightpearl, a provider of retail management systems for automating back office operations.
  • “The State of Omnichannel” report, resulting from an electronic survey of 352 retailers, found that only 8% of respondents believe they have mastered omnichannel, and just 12% believe they have the right omnichannel technology.
  • Furthermore, about 45% admitted they either do not have the right omnichannel technology, or think they would benefit from additional technology platforms.

Dive Insight:

The good news is that omnichannel is way ahead of where it was about four years ago, when fewer than 50% of retailers were pursuing omnichannel strategies, according to Brightpearl. On top of that, 87% now agree that omnichannel is critical or very important to business success, particularly when it comes to customer service: More than 60% of respondents agree that better customer service is one of the major potential payoffs of pursuing an omnichannel strategy.

That being said, there are still more than a few stragglers when it comes to omnichannel: over half of retailers consider their omnichannel approach a “work in progress,” according to the survey, which looks almost positive when you consider that 19% described their omnichannel strategies as a “struggle” or a “pipedream.”

Brightpearl believes part of the problem is that retailers pursuing omnichannel are not spending enough time and resources on technology that would automate back office processes like order fulfillment, carrier integrations, automated accounting and integrated purchase ordering. It deserves to be said, though, that that’s the business Brightpearl happens to be in.

However, the broader point — that there seems to be a disconnect between retailers’ embrace of omnichannel and the actual execution of their strategies — still applies. A lack of back office automation is certainly part of it, but retailers may also be making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons when it comes to choosing technologies to help them make the omnichannel transformation.

There are examples of retailers that are moving confidently toward an omnichannel approach, though. BJ’s Wholesale Club is one that comes to mind. That company has launched new desktop and mobile websites, and a new mobile app within the last year or so, and its entire strategy seems to be moving forward quickly and cohesively.

There are a lot of things retailers need to do to get omnichannel right, a lot of different technologies they need, a lot of different dots to connect, but the best thing retailers can do right now might be to just follow through.

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