A Look Back at Cross-Channel Retail in 2011
It seems fitting to reflect on a year of significant change in the cross-channel retail world, one that' saw cross-channel mature and take prime position on board-level agendas globally. What key changes have occurred in 2011?
Multichannel is the New Default Operating Model for Retail
In 2011, mainstream retail publicly converted to a multichannel retail model. Many retailers either launched or announced major multichannel initiatives, answering consumers’ demands to serve them wherever and whenever they want and through whatever channel, device or touchpoint they choose.
From Single Channel to Multichannel Customer Experience
It became abundantly clear in 2011 that the consumer is in control. They choose how they'd like to interact with a business with influential decision-making information readily available at their fingertips. Unfortunately, consumers can decide how best to investigate your item further and, as the barriers to changing retailers in this process are low, it’s now easier than ever to lose your customers once you’ve attracted them.
In response, retailers have recognized the need to use a combination of channels to attract and convert consumers going forward rather than focussing on channel-centric approaches.
The Year of Mobile
Each of the last five years has been touted as the year of mobile. But mobile devices finally delivered this year, and 2011 comfortably takes the crown. The change was significant on multiple fronts:
- Smartphones: With smartphones accounting for at least half of the mobile landscape, today’s consumers hold a piece of powerful technology. While used less as a shopping channel and more as a device to find information, smartphones are the glue between customer touchpoints, helping retailers to lift their combined bottom line.
- Tablets: The introduction of the iPad made a strong impact in a very short period of time. Establishing itself as a serious mobile device by replacing the PC or laptop for many users as an in-store sales tool, the iPad offers a wealth of applications that many people hadn't imagined at the start of 2011.
- Mobile App vs. Mobile Web Debate: Another outcome in the mobile landscape last year was the resolution of the mobile app or mobile web debate. With the arrival of HTML5, people will be hard-pressed to prioritize apps over the mobile web, although apps will stick around for the time being.
What’s in Store for 2012?
Keep your eyes out for the changing role of point-of-sale systems in the multichannel environment, alongside the changing role of the brick-and-mortar store. Mobile's impact will no doubt further develop, as will cloud-based solutions. Most of all I'm looking forward to the unexpected — 2012's Groupon, Facebook or iPad — and the influence it will have on the retail industry.