Large retailers are failing to connect off and online experiences

Most large UK retailers are continuing to face difficulty in delivering a consistent omnichannel experience, with almost three-fifths (59 per cent) unable to link in-store sales to online activity and nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) failing to offer consistent pricing across all channels.

A recent study of multichannel retailers by RetailMeNot (operator of From Online to Instore – Lessons from Leading Multichannel Retailers, also reports that while more than nine out of ten (92 per cent) large multichannel retailers are now selling online in the UK, almost three-fifths (59 per cent) consider a lack of visibility across channels to be the biggest challenge that they face today.t,

Key findings:

  • 42 per cent are restructuring their business and integrating their in-store and online teams together, to deliver a more consistent experience
  • Almost two-fifths are redirecting their usually separate channel-specific marketing budget toward one fully-integrated multichannel budget
  • 73 per cent of retailers are now recognising that mobile and email can help close this gap and are ramping up tech investment across multiple channels to drive online shoppers in-store

Connecting the in-store and online shopping experience remains a considerable problem for the majority of the UK’s largest multichannel retailers, with nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) admitting that they struggle to offer consistent prices across multiple channels.

To understand how multichannel retailers are working to deliver a more consistent, omnichannel experience, RetailMeNot asked WBR Digital to interview 50 senior marketing executives at leading multichannel retailers across the UK.

Most UK retailers are integrating their in-store and online teams to deliver a more consistent experience, but most marketing budget continued to be siloed. RetailMeNot found that over two-fifths (42 per cent) of UK retailers have restructured their business to bring together online and in-store teams, to ensure a more consistent experience for shoppers, while almost a third (30 per cent) are currently transitioning to a combined retail team. A further 6 per cent are considering combining their teams, while almost a quarter (22 per cent) do not think it will be necessary.

Despite this, the research suggests that marketing budgets still tend to be siloed by channel. Three-fifths (61 per cent) of UK retailers said that marketing budget is typically allocated by channel, between teams responsible for mobile, in-store and online programmes. However a growing number now assign marketing budget to a fully integrated retail team, with almost two-fifths (39 per cent) adopting this approach for omnichannel marketing initiatives in the UK.

Retailers recognise that mobile and email can help to close the loop between in-store and online, and are ramping up digital investment in this area. The report found that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of UK retailers plan to increase levels of digital investment across multiple channels and to drive online shoppers in-store in next 12-24 months, while 27 per cent expect investment levels to remain stable.

Retailers appear to be focusing on mobile and email in particular to connect the in-store and online shopping experience. The research shows that 77 per cent of leading UK multichannel retailers currently have initiatives in place to gather customer email addresses in-store and online, so that in-store and online sales can be linked together to provide a fuller picture of shopper behaviour and spending across multiple channels.

The majority of retailers are also turning to partners for assistance. RetailMeNot found that 71 per cent of retailers are currently working on initiatives with third parties, such as unique vouchers and promotions, to gain greater visibility into the multichannel shopper experience. While a further 57 per cent of retailers are starting to make greater use of mobile vouchers and promotions to encourage online customers to shop in-store.

Severine Philardeau, VP of Retail and Brand Solutions at, RetailMeNot, said: “As consumers increasingly expect a consistent experience across all channels, high street retailers simply cannot afford to stand still. Connecting the dots between online and in-store behaviour and sales is absolutely imperative, and holds the key to improving the shopper experience and maximising the effectiveness of investments in digital and mobile marketing and promotions.

“With three out of five large retailers still unable to link in-store sales to online activity, opportunities to drive sales and strengthen brand loyalty are undoubtedly being missed. To address this challenge and truly act like an omnichannel business, retailers should consider bringing together their in-store and online teams and calling on more of the expertise and support that partners can provide to connect the in-store and online shopping experience.”

Download the paper at WBR Digital