UK is slow to break down channel barriers
If retail executives have paid attention to any industry tradeshow or conference in the past 12 months, they’ve likely heard of the term omni-channel. Most merchants understand the value of striving towards a complete omni-channel retail business, however not all have been quick to adapt and integrate all customers touch points. For example, one recent report from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) found that a significant portion of sellers in the United Kingdom have yet to truly offer a multi channel shopping experience.
The biggest problem seems to be the separation of different channels. For example, with the addition of complex delivery and collection options, it is difficult for retailers to determine cost of sale per item. Sixty percent of respondents from the IMRG report had trouble breaking down barriers between different sales channels. This is problematic because it often leads to situations where merchants have excess stock available in one location but cannot quickly move it to another to fulfill orders.
One of the reasons why U.K. retailers have hesitated to adapt an omni-channel strategy is simply because brick-and-mortar stores are still the preferred shopping venue for 65 percent of customers. This means that U.K. retailers can often get away with less-than-ideal cross-channel operations because it may cost more to implement changes. However, with online shopping on the rise, the number of sales coming from non-physical locations may eventually necessitate change.
Additionally, the cost of high-powered eCommerce solutions, ranging from order fulfillment to inventory management software, is declining, which may spur a blurring of the lines between all the different retail channels.