June 15, 2012, 4:57 PM

Retailers want to provide cross-channel selling

But a new report highlights the reasons that most merchants do not.

Lead Photo

Retailers agree that consolidating shopping experiences across all channels is vital, but most merchants have yet to do the needed work, according to a new survey from Retail Systems Research LLC entitled “Omni-Channel 2012: Cross-Channel Comes of Age.”

The findings, based on 66 retailer responses, show that 100% agree that consolidation is very important, but that only 32% have done so.  “Easy, customer-facing things like advertising and marketing messages have been fairly well consolidated,” write authors Nikki Baird and Brian Kilcourse. “The most important thing is still relatively unconsolidated across channels. That would be the customer shopping experience.”

The report calls retailers that achieved 3% year-over-year comparable store or comparable channel sales growth last year “Retail Winners.” 100% of the retailers in this group say they plan to consolidate the cross-channel shopping experience consumers have. 42% of respondents were “winners,” 35% were average, and 23% were laggards, meaning their comparable store or channel sales in 2011 came in below 3%.

It’s important for retailers today to think like the  winners, the authors say, and develop cross-channel experiences because web-only competitors can offer lower prices. “Enabling true cross-channel capabilities, exposing product and inventory information across the entire enterprise, empowering in-store associates to meet customer needs, and proactively managing the relationship with consumers will enable retailers to build brand loyalty that is more valuable than merely delivering a low price,” the authors say. 

55% of retailers responding to the survey say one of the primary challenges of providing consistent cross-channel shopping experiences is that they don’t have a single view of the customer across channels.

In a related question, 30% say they have budgeted for an investment in a platform that will give them that view, and 24% say they’re planning for such a platform but haven’t budgeted for it yet.

Further compounding the cross-channel problem is that 42% of retailers say they  haven’t integrated their inventory and order management systems. In a related question, 21% say they’ve budgeted for a system that’ll fix that, and another 18% are planning to.

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