83% of Retail Brands to Adopt Omnichannel Strategy Within 18 months

83% of online retailers intend to have implemented an omnichannel strategy in the next 18 months, according to a recent survey conducted at SLI Connect, the annual UK e-commerce summit held here in London. The survey also revealed that a full 53% of respondents have an omnichannel strategy in place today and that significant differences exist in the attitudes exhibited by pure online versus online/offline retailers regarding their multi-channel experience.

SLI Connect UK, held in London on April 10th, is a gathering of e-commerce thought leaders that employ SLI’s e-commerce acceleration solutions to better connect site visitors to the products they seek to buy. More than 100 delegates confirmed their participation in the one-day event that focused on the best practices in “findability,” or helping shoppers zero in on the products or information they desire in large, complicated websites. At the event SLI Systems undertook a survey of leading retail brands including Kingfisher, Wickes, Chemist Direct, Snow+Rock, French Connection, Faberge and LED Hut, exploring their opinions on the importance of, urgency of and correct approach to providing a true omnichannel shopping experience.

The results of the SLI survey highlighted that while not every e-commerce brand has created an omnichannel strategy, the majority are exploring the possibilities.  Respondents also reported the channels they consider key to the successful implementation of an omnichannel strategy:

·  mobile – 100%

·  tablet – 97%

·  online – 95%

·  bricks-and-mortar – 61%

·  kiosk – 15%

Analysis of the data revealed a striking difference in attitude between online-only retailers and those that have an offline presence as well.  Online-only brands appear to view omnichannel as a method of integrating site experience with mobile phones and tablets, while more traditional retailers are interested in how their high street shops and catalogues can fit seamlessly into a customer-centric strategy that also includes online and mobile.

Tim Callan, Chief Marketing Officer at SLI Systems, explained that the fundamental goal of retail omnichannel initiatives is to provide a consistently excellent experience as customers shift from one channel to another in their interaction with the retailers. “The best omnichannel organisations are those that offer the customer the same value, benefits and service options regardless of how they come to you, whether it’s on a PC, in-store, or by mobile device.”

Callan added, “Both communities are trying to use omnichannel to play to their strengths.  Pure-play e-commerce businesses are seeking to stick with the model that brought them success in the first place – keeping overhead low and focusing on the techniques that drive online business growth. On the other hand, bricks-and-mortar retailers are trying to exploit the advantages that come with having physical locations in the same neighbourhoods where their customers live.”

The metrics expected to measure the success of omnichannel underscore its projected importance in driving business growth through improving customer experience:

·  80% of respondents plan to measure success through sales

·  53% plan to measure success through customer experience

·  21% plan to measure success through customer sentiment

·  18% plan to measure success through brand reach

David Kohn, Multichannel Director from Snow Rock commenting on the research findings, says “As a business that has bricks-and-mortar stores as well as online, we see delivering a consistent customer experience through all channels as both our key challenge and our key opportunity.  The survey suggests we are not alone in this.”

Over 85% of respondents said they would be implementing new technologies to support the deployment of their strategies, with just over 14% responding that they would be using existing technologies to do so. Funding such transformation remains a challenge, with only 36% of respondents having new budget to address the necessary technological changes while the remaining 64% of companies will attempt to accomplish a transformation to omnichannel by repurposing existing budgets.

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