September 12, 2007, 12:00 AM

Despite the buzz on cross-channel, retailers struggle to tie it together

The E-Tailing Group’s third annual Buy Online/Pick-up In-Store Study finds less evidence of some in-store tools and activities supporting online marketing than in the past.


While in-store tools and activities tying cross-channel efforts together more smoothly might seem to be a natural complement to online marketing in an increasingly multi-channel retail environment, a recent survey by The E-Tailing Group Inc. found less evidence of it than in the past at the retailers it reviewed.

For example, the third annual Buy Online/Pick-up In-Store Study found few year-over-year improvements in how merchants handled checkout in-store for merchandise ordered and pre-paid online. More than half-54%-of the 23 merchants reviewed in this year’s study required a signature at the store, slightly more than the 50% of the 18 merchants reviewed last year that required a signature. 22% required no additional checkout functions, slightly less than the 29% that did last year.

24% this year were more stringent in requiring a second checkout process at the store to actually make the purchase when ordered but not prepaid online. However, “Firm policies do not appear to always be in place as some associates seem to follow their own rules,” says E-Tailing Group president Lauren Freedman in the study report.

Other findings on multi-channel integration showed a declining trend in the presence of distributed store circulars in-store, with only 51% of stores reviewed using store circulars. That’s in contrast to the 85% of merchants that did so in last year’s study. The study also found fewer web-enabled kiosks in stores than last year-55% versus last year’s 57%. “Although this seems like a natural extension of web technology, maintenance in multiple locations has proven to be difficult,” Freedman observes.


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