Retailers Still Far From Delivering True Omnichannel, Report Finds
The future of the retail industry is mobile. However, retailers have been slow to progress in this area, and brands need help with omnichannel. Most consumers shop with their smartphone in hand while visiting a brick-and-mortar store, and they’ve been trained by the likes of Apple, Amazon.com and Uber to expect a seamless mobile experience everywhere they turn. While there has been progress over the last 12 months, retail brands still have a lot of work to do.
According to NewStore's 2017 Mobile Retail Report, only 22 percent of brands and retailers offer a mobile shopping app. The mobile web experience isn’t great, either. For example, it takes three seconds, on average, for a mobile site to load. (Google aims for a maximum of half-second load times.) Despite this, retailers are well aware that improving the experience on mobile is critical, particularly in the “path to purchase.” Our research shows improvement in mobile checkout. For example, the average was 16 form fields had to be completed, whereas 12 months ago the average was 21. Consumers shouldn’t have to struggle with slow load times and exhaustive forms in order to complete a mobile transaction, and retailers are starting to realize this.
Beyond a better mobile experience, what shoppers desire is personalization and engagement across all channels — i.e., “true omnichannel.” The omnichannel commerce story isn’t new; in fact, consumers have expected a consistent experience across channels for years. They should be able to enjoy the same intimate experience regardless of the channels they use. Unfortunately, app-powered clienteling, for example, has yet to be implemented by most retailers. Furthermore, only 3 percent of brands send personalized promotions via their app, only 11 percent offer in-store appointments through mobile, and only 4 percent offer chat functionality through their app (24 percent offer it via mobile web). Getting close to a customer requires more than just warm intentions; it requires investment in the right technology.
The omnichannel story is now about creating an experience that flows with the way people move about the world and live. Our world is mobile, yet retailers struggle to deliver a proper omnichannel experience on mobile terms. Shoppers don't think of commerce channels independently, and they react negatively to any friction in their experience. They're in a position to engage multiple channels simultaneously. This is exactly how we went about our research for the report. We looked at the customer journey from an offline perspective, analyzing the mobile experience on a browser or native app (if available) and then took to the streets of New York City to cross-reference with the in-store experience. We analyzed the mobile experience, purchase experience, personalization, fulfillment, and more.
Omnichannel conveys a vision of always on, always fluid, always with shoppers, no matter what device or format they opt to use. In reality, this kind of experience is hard to come by. There are some companies showing omnichannel leadership, such as Nordstrom and Sephora. However, many are struggling. For more data and a list of the 140 luxury, lifestyle and apparel brands we analyzed, download the 2017 Mobile Retail Report.
Stephan Schambach is the founder and CEO of NewStore, a mobile retail platform.
Related story: Total Retail's Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers