New study finds lack of effective training, service and use of technology services to support omnichannel offer instore
Some of the largest UK and US retailers are slow to adapt their store operations to changing consumer buying habits, according to a new study conducted by strategic retail advisory firm SD Retail Consulting
The study found that 80% of retailers surveyed are not effectively training their instore staff to accommodate the complex needs of the new multichannel shopper.
The study surveyed retail operations leaders from 35 leading retailers including department store, speciality retail, big box, grocery and convenience store chains, mostly with revenues of over $1 billion (50% of which are publicly traded).
High Street fails to keep pace
“The seamless customer experience and speed of change led by pureplay e-retailers such as Amazon is setting a high bar for retailers operating both bricks and mortar and e-commerce channels. The pace of change to meet this high bar needs to accelerate as the pressure from these new competitors continues to grow,” said Antony Karabus, president of SD Retail Consulting.
“The largest retailers must examine every customer touch point and how they play their part in creating that seamless customer experience. For the minority of retailers who are successfully transforming their store environments, the rewards will be substantial.”
The report found that the US trails UK for instore pick up of web-based orders or ‘click & collect
’. Only 29% of US retailers surveyed had implemented click & collect and only 24% were planning to unveil a pilot program by late 2013.
These figures represent a stark contrast to UK retailers, where 78% of retailers surveyed had deployed the option. It also said UK retailers continue to improve on the convenience of their click & collect programmes, testing additional benefits such as free parking for customers who pick-up during morning business hours for example.
Lack of instore mobility and training
Only 18% of US retailers had implemented mobile point-of-sale (PoS) systems across a significant portion of their stores, and in most of those cases, retailers have only rolled it out to select groups of stores, rather than entire chains. Further, mobile PoS was still typically used for only one or two specific uses (i.e. queue busting or search/assistance within specific departments), rather than using the full extent of its capabilities, including customer relationship management (CRM), labour scheduling and traffic counters etc.
The majority (80%) of US and UK retailers surveyed also admitted they had not invested sufficiently in training their store staff on how to handle multichannel customers instore, whether on how to handle ‘showrooming
,’ competitive price-matching, instore pick-up requests, or addressing specific product knowledge customers may have gained from the web. Additionally, fewer than 25% of retailers surveyed indicated that their field management was providing the leadership necessary to drive improved productivity through their physical stores in this new multichannel environment.
Less than 10% of retailers surveyed were currently compensating their associates in some way that recognises their contribution to cross-channel sales. Retailers with cross-channel customers acknowledge that while the store may not ring the sale, their associates play a critical part in driving company top-line sales, yet the study pointed out that methods for compensating employees for contributing to the sale by servicing the shopper instore (before they actually transact online) have yet to be formalised.
Joe Madigan, SD Retail Consulting vice president of store operations, commented: “Multichannel is disrupting store operations across real estate footprint, inventory ‘location,’ customer service and selling and is the most significant challenge to store operations that I have seen in the last 25 years.”