Report: The Omnichannel Boat Has Been Rocked
When CI&T first launched The Connected Retail Report in 2020, retailers were forced to enact omnichannel strategies to accommodate consumers’ urgent inabilities and fears regarding shopping in stores. The results of last year’s evaluation reflected that sense of urgency — with retailers offering omnichannel experiences, but failing to tie them all together in ways that supported consumers’ unique needs.
In 2021, retailers made their omnichannel capabilities so connected that we had to tighten our cutoffs for evaluation because so many of our initial 99 retailers delivered on the first round of criteria we put them through. In order to thoroughly evaluate our retailers, we took 99 retailers across the convenience, department, big-box, specialty, and grocery categories that met the basic requirements of being connected through a mini heuristics assessment. The retailers that scored 95 percent or above were then measured across 87 data points in the relationship building, search, shop, cart, buy, fulfillment, and returns categories.
The resulting top 10 connected retailers, in order from top to bottom, were:
- The Home Depot
- Levi Strauss & Co.
- American Eagle
- Ulta Beauty
We were surprised to see that only three (Target, The Home Depot, Walmart) of our top 10 from 2021 made it into our top 10 this year, demonstrating just how quickly and dramatically many retailers have caught up and propelled forward in their connected journeys.
White space was left available for brands to allow for shoppers to filter by their preferred fulfillment method, for shoppers to share payment responsibilities with others, and for editing the item configuration to happen on the cart page vs. in a separate window. No retailer allowed for any of these functions. Furthermore, our newly included section on loyalty highlighted a need for retailers to provide more seamless opportunities for sharing considered items with peers via SMS and/or social media. Additionally, many chances were left on the table for retailers to leverage their apps as conversational platforms to gauge consumer interest in upcoming items or ideas for development.
Similar to last year, we dedicated half of the report to consumer insight survey results from our Connected Retail Survey deployed in October 2021. Among the most intriguing data points from the survey? More than two-thirds (68 percent) of participants answered “true” in response to the statement, “I purposely seek out retailers that offer omnichannel experiences,” solidifying the importance of this report in the first place. Now that omnichannel retail is table stakes for consumers, and the majority of retailers are offering it, it’s imperative that the experience is actually a rewarding one. Here are a few other intriguing highlights in the consumer insights section:
- When asked their preferred method of online shopping, respondents’ first choice was apps, exhibiting a long-awaited readiness to download and use retailer apps.
- Surprisingly, consumers were slightly more likely to report a preference for in-store pickup vs. curbside pickup, signaling that there may be a mindset of, “I’m already going to the store, so I might as well go in and see what else is there,” plus a simple desire for certainty that the product will be available when they arrive.
- In a world where 15-minute delivery is garnering an impressive amount of retailer attention and intention, we also decided to ask what consumers’ expectations were around delivery timing. The most commonly selected response as to when consumers expected online orders to arrive to them was three days to four days later, followed by two days. This finding begs the question as to why retailers feel the need to push speedy delivery when labor and supply chain shortages are consistent challenges.
Melissa Minkow joined digital transformation firm CI&T as retail industry lead after two years in merchandising strategy at Target; six years covering omnichannel, e-commerce and social commerce at Gartner; a short tenure in pharmaceutical market research; and the completion of a Kellogg MBA.
Melissa recently joined CI&T as Retail Industry Lead after two years in merchandising strategy at Target, six years covering omni-channel, e-commerce, and social commerce at Gartner, a short tenure in pharmaceutical market research, and the completion of a Kellogg MBA. She is a retail futurist whose methodology is rooted in cross-industry consumer insights and innovation. She measures her success by how far out of the box she can inspire a client’s customer-centric solutions.