Survey: Retailers progressing on omnichannel, but not fast enough
- While omnichannel adoption is growing among retailers, almost half of merchants believe they are making little progress in their omnichannel efforts, according to a new benchmarking report from eTail and WBR Digital.
- Among other findings from the survey of 90 executives in retail-related segments, about 75% of retailers said they consider omnichannel essential to their business, but 49% said they are not actively investing in an omnichannel strategy.
- About 39% of respondents called integrating omnichannel capabilities with outdated systems the top problem hindering their strategies. Meanwhile, only 1% of retailers said they consider mobile marketing to be their biggest spending channel, with 61% saying search marketing fills this role, the report stated.
It's good that roughly three out of four retailers think that omnichannel is very important, but pretty bad that almost 50% are not actively investing in an omnichannel strategy.
There could be a lot of reasons why they haven't pursued something they obviously see as important, like a shortages of resources to invest. But they also may have too long a list of other priorities, or may just lack the in-house staff talent or understanding to get started.
It's also possible that retailers need to run up against sales shortages before they really find the energy to pursue omnichannel. That's essentially what happened with large retailers Target and J.C. Penney, stores that put omnichannel front and center as part of turnaround strategies after disappointing sales trends.
The challenges presented by outdated systems also are not easy to overcome. Many retailers have IT staffs that are overloaded with projects, but lack the resources to invest in new systems. For some of them, outsourcing an omnichannel project or other aspects of IT to give them a chance to tackle omnichannel in-house could be an option.
Likewise, mobile marketing is probably not a discipline well understood in many retailers, but they need to get a handle on it, either by hiring or educating in-house staff — or again, outsourcing to another agency — to assemble mobile marketing plans that leverage cutting-edge mobile tools. The holiday season is as good a time to do that as any.
The eTail/WBR Digital report does note that retailers have their customers' best interests in mind, as a majority of participating executives said a seamless shopper experience across channels is the most important benefit of an omnichannel strategy. Now they just need to get going on making it happen.