Insight: the gap between retailer and consumer

According to the latest research, only 4 per cent of consumers believe retailers know what they like when shopping via a particular channel.

The first Omnico Retail Gap Barometer explored the interactions 1200 consumers’ had with retailers across the channels they offer, the stock visibility and promotions they deliver and the fulfilment methods they provide. While only a small sample said they thought retailers understood them, the survey suggested that this could be improved if retailers embraced a consistent and coherent omnichannel strategy.

Overall consumers awarded 72 points out of 100 for the quality of their experience across every type of interaction with retailers. However, the survey revealed that levels of customer satisfaction drop as a retailer employs more channels. Although 62 per cent of consumers said they had a seamless experience more than once across online and in-store, this fell to 39 per cent when mobile applications, phone and social media were included.

Customers have high expectations that each touchpoint will be quick and convenient, with 74 per cent of respondents saying these are the most important factors in deciding which channel to use.

The survey shows that, despite retailers’ investment in multiple channels, traditional in-store shopping remains the most popular retail option, selected by 43 per cent of respondents. Only 9 per cent of respondents favoured the option of buying online and collecting in a third-party location such as a train station, supermarket etc.

“Shoppers now expect to hop between online and physical stores and have the same experience across every channel,” says Mel Taylor, CEO, Omnico Group. “While the overall score in our survey suggests a glowing picture, the details show shoppers today are frustrated by the service they’re receiving. While it’s clear that the store experience is still king, many retailers are then diluting the quality of the experience they offer as they expand into more channels and touchpoints.”

In addition, retailers are failing to provide the levels of stock visibility across channels that customers now require. 49 per cent of consumers, for example, said visibility of stock in stores if products are unavailable online was no better than very poor-to-average.

Returns too, are an area of concern. Against a backdrop of 84 per cent of consumers viewing a free returns policy as either important or essential to their decision to buy, 40 per cent said they want to return goods by any method, irrespective of how they were bought. 30 per cent of respondents, for example, rated their experience very poor-to-average when returning goods bought and paid for online.

“Organisational silos and un-integrated legacy systems have all hindered the progress retailers are making toward an omnichannel operation. With these challenges overcome retailers can consistently and coherently deliver the same personalised brand experience across their channels. Ignoring these issues retailers face irreversible brand damage and will lose market-share as shoppers go elsewhere.”

“We believe our quarterly Omnico Retail Gap Barometer will be an indispensable tool that will help indicate where effort should be focused and investment needs to be made.”