Accenture: Retailers struggle to deliver multi-channel shopping experience

Retailers are struggling to meet customers' multi-channel buying expectations, according to research from consulting firm Accenture and SAP business software subsidiary hybris.

Organisational, operational and technology challenges are hampering retailers in meeting customer expectations, even though retailers view omni-channel maturity as a priority and see it as a key brand differentiator for their companies.

Accenture brought in analyst Forrester to question 1,500 multi-channel shoppers and 256 decision makers from retail and manufacturing organisations across the US, the UK, France and Germany.

Nearly all - 94 percent - of retail decision makers said their companies face "significant barriers" to becoming an integrated omni-channel company.

The survey found that 71 percent of the shoppers expect to view in-store inventory online, and 50 percent expect to buy online and pick up their purchase in a physical store.

Yet, only one third (36 percent) of the retail decision makers surveyed said their companies could meet all these demands.

“Thirty nine percent of customers surveyed say they are unlikely or very unlikely to visit a retailer’s store if its website does not provide physical store inventory information,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s retail practice.

"Increasing adoption of e-commerce and mobile technology by consumers underscores how important it is for retailers to introduce digital commerce into every aspect of their business to keep up with, and hopefully outpace their competitors,” said Donnelly.

According to the survey, 40 percent of retailers "are having difficulty" integrating back-office technology across all of their channels. Accenture said they needed to have a consolidated, accurate view of real-time inventory across stores and distribution centres.

Also, although 46 percent of decision makers surveyed said they already had a dedicated omni-channel team - one that includes members of all functions - conflicting priorities and organisational silos remained a key challenge.

Two additional key barriers identified as preventing retailers from becoming an integrated omni-channel company, are difficulty in sharing customer data and analytics between channels, countries or locations, and a lack of in-store associate training.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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