As retail preferences continue to shift in favor of online shopping, retailers are facing pressure to keep up with the latest technology to stay relevant to their customers’ expectations.
However, expanding business online is proving to be difficult and retailers are often faced with many challenges, be it from external or internal factors, that hinder efforts to provide a satisfying omnichannel experience.
What is the challenge these retailers are facing? And what can they do to improve their omnichannel experience? PwC has shared its latest insights based on a survey conducted globally to help the retailers make the digital leap.
What channels are retailers using to generate sales?
In addition to the offline store (79%), a website is the next popular platform for 73% of retailers to sell products.
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly mobile apps (24%) have become the next channel to reach a wider audience.
21% of retailers around the world are still using catalogs to promote their products and as much as 18% of retailers are still dependent on a call center.
What are the challenges to creating an omnichannel experience?
30% of the retailers surveyed stated ‘budget constraints’ as their biggest challenge.
Many of them don’t come from a global household name and find it challenging to devote their limited resources to manage another channel.
They also have to face challenges branching from the existing system. 13% of the leadership team doesn’t consider omnichannel as a priority and many are resistant to the idea of changing their legacy system (21%). Even when they are willing to, they find it difficult to integrate (20%).
The lack of talent and expertise in the field (16%) continue to be another bottleneck in online retail.
What can retailers do to improve?
With limited resources, retailers need to have smarter strategies to optimize budgets and reach the right audience. Omnichannel is not about favoring one over the other, it’s about the synergy of different channels to create a more satisfying customer experience.
A smarter strategy comes down to two things:
Mobile website, not app
Although in-store is still the most common channel for people to shop, mobile is an increasingly popular way to browse and shop and will continue to gain popularity in the future.
Keep in mind, a mobile strategy doesn’t necessarily mean investing in an expensive app, retailers can focus on improving their current website to be mobile-friendly.
The mobile app is becoming an unpopular method of reaching people as more individuals feel reluctant to download another application that they will not use regularly.
By making sure the mobile version of a website is easy to use and intuitive for both browsing and shopping – making sure the checkout and payment process is smooth-, customers will have a better experience with your brand.
Optimize in-store experience
The offline store is not going away anytime soon, people still want the physical experience of seeing the product before buying it.
This may be an advantage that traditional retailers have that pure-play online player doesn’t but the survey showed that there are many customers who feel unsatisfied with their in-store experience.
Training the sales associates to have a deep knowledge of the product range is a worthwhile investment as 78% of shoppers feel it’s an important experience to have in-store.
The ability to check inventory real-time is integral – i.e. knowing when an item will be back in stock – as customers coming to the store suggest an immediate need for the product. Shoppers are also craving a personalized experience when they’re visiting an offline store – this has been found to be especially true for luxury brands.
By using technology such as an integrated data platform for offline and online channels, customers can easily access inventory information and pick up their online purchases in the nearest store. Collecting this data also allows retailers to create a more personalized in-store experience with each customer visit.
PwC’s report can be found here.