SOURCE: Edgell Knowledge Network (EKN)

Edgell Knowledge Network (EKN)

July 08, 2013 11:00 ET

Omni-Channel Integration Still a Major Roadblock in Enabling a Seamless Retail Experience in Stores, According to New Research Study From EKN

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwired - Jul 8, 2013) -  Brick-and-mortar retailers are ill-equipped to offer the next generation of consumers the contextual, seamless and personalized shopping experience they demand, according to a new research report from EKN, The First Annual Future of Stores Study. According to the new study, sponsored by Epicor, retailers display low maturity in terms of their stores' omni-channel integration: only a third use the store as a delivery hub for online orders, one in four offer smart devices to their sales associates, and one in ten have features in their mobile app that are useful in the store. The study is available for download here.

The EKN report outlines the dynamic industry changes that are driving the need for retailers to reinvent their customer engagement strategies in order to remain competitive, and how the role of the store has morphed from being a standalone commerce destination to a hub of customer engagement.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Retailers have low levels of system integration across channels. With the need for stores to be better integrated with emerging digital channels, it becomes important for retailers to tightly integrate their systems across channels. Systems focused on the core tenets of traditional retail -- product, price and inventory -- are the most mature in terms of integration. However, even these systems have a long way to go before tight integration becomes an industry norm. On the other hand, systems focused on the customer -- loyalty, customer information and promotions -- have the lowest integration levels.

  • Future investments in store technologies will be accompanied by a rationalization of legacy store systems. Retailers view technology as a key differentiator in a number of areas, from helping stores operate more efficiently to increasing digital engagement with shoppers, improving the effectiveness of managers and associates, providing consistent product and price information across channels, and other key areas. Yet, IT spending on store technologies will remain relatively flat over the next 3 years. In order to invest in technologies that improve the in-store customer experience, they will need to undertake strategic initiatives to weed out cost from the current operating model.

  • Store associate mobility is high on the priority list, but low on the maturity curve. One of the few advantages brick-and-mortar retailers have over online competitors is the ability to provide consumers a human touch. Though retailers have aggressive plans to enable their sales associates to spend more, and better, time with customers -- 71% plan to provide a mobile device or tablet to store associates by 2015 -- their maturity as relates to what store associates can do with these mobile devices is low. One in two retailers have no plans to deliver competitive pricing information to their store associates, nor do they have plans to deliver insightful customer profiles at the point of interaction.

"Consumers don't think in terms of channels. Retailers still do. The future of the retail store is no different than the future of all retail -- seamlessly integrated, technologically enabled and personal," said Gaurav Pant, Research Director for EKN. "For retailers to be able to deliver such an experience, they need to align all channels to the lifetime value of customers, empower store associates at the point of interaction, infuse new digital experiences in-store, and aggressively integrate customer data, inventory and pricing across all channels."

To learn more about how to participate in future EKN surveys or gain access to the EKN portal, please contact David Weinand at dweinand@edgellmail.com.

About EKN
EKN (www.eknresearch.com) is a research and content service that was built based on feedback and advice from retail executives. Part of the Edgell Communications family, EKN is a subscription-based portal that provides retailers with access to the site's powerful decision-support and data analysis tools, allowing them to leverage EKN's industry-leading database of original research, user-generated vendor indexes and market trends. EKN also lets members share insights and real-world experiences through ongoing peer forums, both virtual and in person.

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