With the increasing shift to digital-first platforms and swelling consumer demands, it’s no surprise that retailers have adopted more omnichannel strategies to draw in shoppers and maximize profitability.
However, not all services are winning over customers; in fact, these experiences might just be pushing them away.
A study conducted by retail advisory firm HRC found that inconsistencies in business operations can often lead to frustration among consumers and even heightened cost to the company itself.
Speaking with C-suite executives at 30 retailers, the survey determined that all of the interviewed companies offering omnichannel services have encountered challenges in their rush to employ the strategy — particularly, buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), predictive analytics and inefficiencies in shipping.
“Very few retailers have formal scorecards to measure the performance and profitability of their omnichannel efforts, which often means they can’t effectively and efficiently take the corrective action needed to improve customer service and profitability,” said Anthony Karabus, HRC’s CEO.
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According to the study, about 66 percent of retailers considered BOPIS to be unreliable, as systems often inform shoppers that a product is available in their selected store when the item in question isn’t actually in stock.
Additionally, only 14 percent of retailers in the study confirmed their use of predictive analytics — a form of technology that uses data mining and statistical algorithms to determine patterns in future outcomes. Most of them, the study read, continue to grapple with integrating such analytics into their operations.
And lastly, there’s the issue of shipping. The study reported that 77 percent of retailers ship predominantly from e-commerce fulfillment centers instead of local stores that may be closer to customers’ delivery addresses. Almost 70 percent of companies don’t have customer order systems optimized, which can bring about split shipments and higher freight costs.
“Brick-and-mortar retailers have overextended themselves as they’ve tried to leverage their physical store fleets,” Karabus added. “E-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment and related returns have led to sharply rising freight costs and product margin challenges. Meanwhile, consumers expect ever-faster delivery, pressuring retailers to meet those expectations in order to remain competitive.”
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