SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

May 08, 2008 10:00 ET

Two-Thirds of Retailers Lack Cross-Channel System and Process Integration, Says New Aberdeen Report

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - May 8, 2008) - Aberdeen, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), surveyed 220 retail enterprises between February and March 2008 to determine the current state of cross-channel technology and process integration. Recent Aberdeen research indicates that only 30% of cross-channel retailers (e.g., direct sales, stores & Internet, Internet & call center, or a combination) have attained some level of cross-channel integration across their inventory, order management, fulfillment, and customer processes such as consistent pricing, product information, promotions, and loyalty initiatives. All of the above processes contribute towards a new customer acquisition and customer retention in the web, catalog, and store channels.

"Our data shows that the reasons for the lack of integration include channel conflicts -- lack of channel flexibility, legacy systems impeding multi-channel process integration, and lack of agile customer and process management tools for cross-channel productivity, communication, and resolution," says Sahir Anand, senior analyst and chief author of the multi-channel benchmark report.

The report has detailed the Best-in-Class approach to integration. For instance, Best-in-Class retailers' focus on creating a roadmap for multi-channel integration compared to Average and Laggard companies. More than half (53%) of the Best-in-Class are currently focused on developing an integrated brand identity amongst their customer base as a core strategy. "These companies are 30% more likely than laggard organizations to follow a strategy that is based on brand integration rather than a channel-specific focus on customer processes. The channel-specific focus has so far dominated multi-channel selling. However, Best-in-Class are gradually creating an overall focus on the brand," says Anand. The research reveals that designing the process and system strategy for multi-channel integration is a significant decision for any retailer from a web site, call center, end-to-end order management, or customer fulfillment standpoint. The business case for improving, or introducing, a unified cross-channel strategy involve factors such as customer value, business targets, investments to change or improve existing multi-channel technology, operating costs, and internal skill sets.

Despite the challenges, Aberdeen has recommended that Average and Laggard retailers can improve by developing a single process to uniformly update product and pricing information across channels, an integrated view of inventory and customer fulfillment, a knowledge and performance management culture that focuses on cross-channel analytics for attaining integration, and execute coordinated promotions across all channels of operations.

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part to the following underwriters: Epicor, Sigma Micro, and VCommerce. To obtain a complimentary copy, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=4725.

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

© 2008 Aberdeen Group, Inc., a Harte-Hanks Company
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