Now is the Time to Double-Down on Digital and Omnichannel
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely turned retail upside down. As consumers have relied on digital commerce for essentials, and retailers and brands have relied on digital just to keep their “doors” open, the accelerated adoption of digital and omnichannel is driving new shopping behaviors that will likely have a lasting impact. As retailers scramble to navigate this new reality, meeting the demands of both experienced and novice digital shoppers, they must also plan for what’s next.
The 2020 FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index, which examines how 125 retailers perform against 300 web, mobile, and in-store criteria, provides important benchmarks and best practices that can be applied to prioritize and plan for a post-pandemic retail world.
The Index, which was first launched in 2015, reveals that while there's still a lot of room for improvement in the overall adoption of digital and omnichannel best practices, there has been significant growth within specific areas, such as buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS) and inventory visibility across all channels.
Renewed Focus on Convenience
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced retailers to address areas directly related to digital commerce and convenience, catapulting services such BOPIS. Even before the pandemic, retailers recognized the benefits of BOPIS and were taking action. In 2015, BOPIS was offered by only 33 percent of retailers in the Index. At the end of 2019, it had doubled to 66 percent. Today, 76 percent of retailers in the Index offer BOPIS.
In a pre-COVID-19 world, retailers that offered BOPIS enjoyed the benefit of being able to promote potential add-ons and impulse purchases when customers arrived in-store to pick up their orders. Enter COVID-19 and the need for pickup in-store, for many, meant quickly adding curbside pickup capabilities, offered by 58 percent of retailers in the Index today. In a curbside pickup scenario, retailers miss out on the upsell opportunities of BOPIS and, as a result, in-store upsell opportunities must be replaced with digital opportunities, such as personalized product recommendations and enhanced content at all touchpoints. While the majority of retailers in the Index master basic upsell features such as product recommendations, more sophisticated digital upsells such as “complete the look” (offered by 44 percent) and threshold messaging on product detail pages (offered by just 10 percent) present significant opportunities for improvement.
The Inventory Visibility Mandate
The Index reveals that retailers and brands increasingly recognize the critical role of inventory visibility for delivering on the omnichannel promise. Sixty-seven percent of retailers with store locations highlight in-store product availability online, either on category or product detail pages, an increase from 39 percent in 2016. Inventory lookup on category page search filters, which enables shoppers to refine search results by store availability, remains underutilized, adopted by only 32 percent of retailers.
In 2016, 61 percent of retailers enabled store associates to find products that weren't available in their store at a different store location or online. In 2019, the adoption rate was 72 percent, suggesting that retailers continue to invest in tools to empower store associates to further elevate the shopping experience. However, as we enter new retail reopening phases, we're already seeing a shift in investment priorities from associate tools to shopper self-service and mobile tools.
Don’t Settle for Survival
At FitForCommerce, we used to say that a strong digital and omnichannel strategy was needed to grow and thrive. In today’s COVID-19 world, a winning digital and omnichannel strategy is needed just to survive.
Retailers and brands can use the Omnichannel Retail Index to evaluate current capabilities and develop a prioritized road map for meeting customer demands to help them do more than just survive in the future. For more in-depth data and insights, get the full report here.
Kathy Kimple is chief retail officer, FitForCommerce, a leading boutique consultancy that helps ecommerce and omnichannel businesses make smarter business decisions.
Related story: Total Retail's 2019 Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers