I have often commented on the blog about the growth in multichannel communication with customers in the past few years. In particular, how customer expectations for an omnichannel, where the customer experience is equally good across all possible channels, are driving forward many customer service strategies.
However, a new research report by Boston Retail Partners suggests that most retailers in the USA are failing to deliver the kind of omnichannel that customers expect.
Eighty-five percent of retailers list unified commerce as one of their top priorities, meaning that the online website, app, and in-store experience should be blended and all as good as each other. However, most are struggling to achieve this goal according to the report.
Sixty percent of click-and-collect orders on Cyber Monday could not be seamlessly fulfilled suggesting that customer-focused initiatives are still a high priority, but need improvement.
62 percent of retailers in the study named customer identification and personalization of the customer experience among their top three customer engagement priorities, more than any other initiative. Forty percent listed empowering in-store associates with mobile tools, while 38 percent highlighted real-time retail, both of which will further help personalization by supporting the customer experience with better information.
Recognizing customers before they reach the checkout is seen as critical for personalization to work well. For customers to accept monitoring and by brands there will need to be more tightly integrated loyalty systems that reward customers in return for sharing their preferences and location information.
Although this study sounds negative when it suggests that most retailers are several years from delivering the kind of service that customers expect, I tend to read it more positively. To see this research suggesting that the omnichannel is the top priority of 85 percent of retailers says to me that the quality of the customer journey is right up there on the boardroom table.
The quality of the customer experience is truly guiding the entire retail industry in the USA and I think that this recognition that customer centricity is essential for success is extremely positive news.