August 17, 2006, 12:00 AM

Multi-channel innovation key to retail growth, new report says

Retailers best positioned for growth—including Pet Smart, Target and Office Depot—are those that offer innovative use of web-enabled multi-channel environments rather simply building more stores, Kanbay Research Institute says in a report released today.

The retailers best positioned for growth-including Pet Smart, Target and Office Depot-are those that present shopping experiences based on innovative use of web-enabled multi-channel environments rather than simply building more stores, Kanbay Research Institute says in a report released today, “Retail Demand Today: How Well Retailers Deliver on America’s Shopping Desires.”

The report, which augments data Kanbay and the National Retail Federation presented in co-branded report released earlier this year, notes that overall retail industry revenue growth during the 2000-2005 period was 8.1%, about half the growth of 16.7% during 1995-2000. It blames the relatively sluggish growth on the strategies of many retailers to emphasize either cost-cutting or the opening of more stores to improve their financial performance. A lack of innovation, meanwhile, has led to less power among retailers to increase prices, Kanbay adds.

But consumers are demanding more innovative shopping experiences that let them shop seamlessly among web sites, catalogs and stores to make purchases and get service in a true multi-channel environment, Kanbay says. The onus on retailers is to become more customer-centric, serving them however they want to be served across channels, it adds.

“With so many choices today it’s critical for retailers to become truly demand-driven,” says John White, executive director of Kanbay’s Consumer & Industrial Products practice. “This requires retailers to not only continually understand the emerging needs of consumers, but also how to focus internal resources and systems to meet those needs in the most efficient way.”

Among the leading innovators Kanbay named by categories:

--Auto parts: Autozone
--Books: Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble
--Clothing: Men’s Warehouse
--Department stores: Kohl’s
--Discount stores: Target
--Jewelry: Tiffany & Co.
--Office supplies: Office Depot
--Pet supplies: PetSmart
--Specialty goods: Carter’s
--Sporting goods: Sport Chalet
--Toys: Hasbro

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