We’re in a cross-channel world

August 12, 2011

More unified messaging across media, the Web and stores could raise supermarket relevancy with omni-channel shoppers.

Retailers that get out in front of the cross-channel shopping trend will connect better with consumers who simply want good experiences. Because consumers already move, think and make purchase decisions in a cross-channel world (media, Web, smartphones, stores), retailers need to create consistent marketing messages, ensure seamless shopping across channels, and execute on product fulfillment.

These are some implications of the Enabling Buy Anywhere/Get Anywhere: The Future of Cross-Channel 2011 Benchmark Report, released by Retail Systems Research and sponsored by Red Prairie.

Four areas of cross-channel strategy are critical to retailer success, the study concluded:
•    A digital strategy for stores
•    Differentiating the customer experience
•    Executive-led business model change
•    Marketing and IT cooperatively develop a technology strategy to support cross-channel

“For the first time since the barcode, retailers are challenged to think about how their operations models are constructed,” the report states.  “Today, consumers are concerned about time and relevance. Their busy lifestyles don’t allow for a casual browse through a big store or mall to discover what’s available and at what price. And money is tight – consumers want just the right solution for their needs. Although the early warning signs were there with e-commerce, it wasn’t until the surprisingly fast and widespread adoption of “smart” mobile and social media technologies that most retailers came to understand that consumers aren’t satisfied with what the retailer wants to sell them….It’s not about what the retailer wants to sell, but what the consumer wants to buy.”

Indeed, 50% of survey respondents (retailers, primarily mid-level directors and managers) perceive that multi-channel customers are significantly more profitable. Retailers have a better understanding of complex consumer paths to purchase, and know “that just because revenue cannot be directly assigned to a non-store digital channel, that doesn’t mean that it’s unimportant. In fact, the consumer’s ability to investigate and even select a product in a non-store channel has the potential to drive more business to the primary (usually store) channel,” the report notes.

Retailers believe they aren’t moving fast enough to enable omni-channel strategies, and blame integration challenges as the main culprit, the data show.

The sooner supermarkets develop these strategies, the more effectively they could curb trip and basket erosion, believes The Lempert Report.