IVIS Groups first annual multi-channel maturity benchmark report found that only 44% of retailers currently allow shoppers to reserve or pay for products online and collect in-store. While 77% of these give customers access to the service on both their web and mobile sites, the remaining 23% do so only via their websites.
The top 50 retailers, by turnover across five categories – grocery, department stores, clothing, general merchandise and home improvement – were analysed.
Multi-channel expert IVIS Groups research, which reviews the retail landscape from a customer perspective, shows that many retailers are providing an inconsistent customer experience across in-store, online and mobile channels.
When looking at how mobile is linking online and in-store shopping, consumers can access all 50 retailers on smartphones and tablets such as the iPad. More than a third (38%) of retailers still havent optimised their websites for these channels, however 54% of retailers do have a mobile app.
Of those with a mobile optimised site or app, 84% have a store locator on the home page. Over half (55%) dont allow customers to check in-store stock availability before going shopping.
We selected the top 50 retailers across five categories because they are investing the most in multi-channel as a whole, said Paul Bolton, Director of Product and Corporate Strategy at IVIS Group. We found that while some retailers are leading the way with flawless, joined up customer shopping experiences, these are rare. In-store and online crossover is a growing trend, but the number of retailers offering this service is low – even when taking into account that certain product types may not suit the click and collect model. Retailers need to start thinking like shoppers. Running a unified operation means the customer gets the best experience.
IVIS Group analysed elements of customer service, and found that two thirds of retailers are happy to receive telephone calls about online and catalogue shopping queries and orders. 34% are not, preferring to be contacted by email or web forms.
42% of retailers send email and text notifications for items ready to collect in-store, indicating that over half (58%) are not taking advantage of technology to keep customers informed, instead relying on call centres or in-store staff.
Research shows that a fifth of the UKs top retailers provide little or no product information to online shoppers. 16% of retailers do not provide exact product dimensions, clothing sizes and materials, while 4% give patchy information across their product ranges.
Looking at whether retailers show products in situ, such as clothes displayed on mannequins and furniture placed in rooms, only 12% show all products as they would appear. Half leave customers to guess how items will look and 38% of retailers show only certain types of products in situ. Only one retailer currently offers product videos.
Just over a quarter (26%) of retailers offer interactive screens in-store, allowing customers to browse products.
Some retailers are leapfrogging the need for interactive screens as they look directly to the use of mobile in-store and invest in offering wi-fi connectivity, added Bolton. Our research found that 4% of retailers currently offer free wi-fi, with 2% planning to in the future.
IVIS Group researched the top 50 retailers activity on social media sites. All but one have a presence on Facebook, enabling shoppers to like the retailer or share links. Only two have Facebook stores.
Twitter is the next most popular social channel, with 92% of retailers tweeting. Of these, 87% respond to user queries; suggesting a small number use Twitter purely to push messages out rather than engage with customers.
The report also reveals that more UK retailers are dipping their toes into international waters – 34% now ship to overseas locations and 32% trade in one or more countries.
While internationalisation is an area retailers are looking to for growth, many opportunities still exist in the domestic market if customer-centric best practices are implemented across the channels, Bolton concluded.