The omni-channel stampede: part 2

The omni-channel stampede: part 2

Stumbling, pushing and colliding

Following on from part 1 – Rushing headlong into omni-channel, we take a look at how retailers think they’re performing, and what’s holding them back from omni-channel success.

On average, retailers gave themselves a 6/10 when asked to rate their omni-channel performance. And only 5% felt they were at the top of their game, whilst another 38% rated themselves as “good to great”. In comparing themselves to their competitors, only 27% of retailers felt they were bettered by others in their field.

Figure 1
Figure 1

So what does this tell us? Eric Fergusson, Head of Retail Services at eCommera, commented, “The lack of confidence held by retailers in regards to their omni-channel strategies is refreshingly honest, but illustrates the home-truth that for most there is a long way to go in reaching the true “fulfil from anywhere” model. As a concept, omni-channel is well known and, in part, widely adopted, yet it’s interesting to see the uncertainty that many retailers still face in successfully executing the full end-game, and in particular, one view of stock.”

What are the barriers to success?

Of those who felt their omni-channel experience was sub-par, lack of clear vision was cited as the leading barrier to success. Other key issues included lack of investment, lack of internal skills, and not being able to prove the ROI benefits (see figure 2).

Figure 2
Figure 2

The results demonstrate that the transition to omni-channel is moving faster than the organisation. Looking at retail from the outside, it seems as if there’s rapid progress towards omni-channel; however when you look from the inside out, you find that the business itself is struggling to keep up with - let alone stay ahead of - the change. This is most clearly manifested in the fact that 76% of those who said they were doing poorly at omni-channel see lack of vision and leadership as the key omni-channel challenge.

Looking at these barriers more closely, we see a trend in which smaller businesses especially struggle to make omni-channel relevant to the business, and seemingly don’t have buy-in from key stakeholders. Time constraints are also a key issue for this segment, which is again likely a reflection of the perceived importance of omni-channel programmes to the leadership team.

Sacha Williams, Business Development Director at eCommera, commented, “The fact that lack of clear vision came out top isn’t surprising. Retailers are finding that there is so much noise in the market, and so many potential things to invest in, that they don’t know where to start. As a result, many retailers are reluctant to make strategic investments, instead preferring to take a short-term, ‘belt and braces’ approach, which is often not scalable or cost-efficient. Moving forward, retailers need to look at the bigger picture and take a longer term view, in order to achieve true omni-channel success.”

Only 50% have a clear idea of potential ROI

The lack of vision is also reflected in the fact that only 50% of retailers said they have a clear idea of the potential ROI of omni-channel services before starting out. And a mere 22% felt they were crystal clear about what experience the customer would end up with when they embarked on omni-channel activity.

Read more

How are retailers measuring their omni-channel initiatives, and are they actually making any money? Read part 3 – Are we there yet? – to find out more.

And if you’d like to find out more about measuring and maximising your omni-channel ROI, download our omni-channel consulting brochure.


Survey methodology
We interviewed 100 leading UK retailers to find out how they were planning, measuring and tracking the success of their omni-channel programmes. The interviews, conducted by independent research firm Coleman Parkes, took place during September and October 2015. Respondents had a minimum of 20 stores, a minimum revenue of £50m/annum and all hold roles key to omni-channel within their organisations.