Missing the omni-point

23 January 2020
Hub Box

An interesting fact about the top 20 retailers in the 2015 UK Omnichannel Retail Index (ORI) is that most of them are now struggling. Indeed the number 1 spot in that year was taken by Mothercare, the latest in a long line of casualties in the increasingly challenging retail sector. Last place was taken by Primark, who seem to be in rude health.

Does that mean that customers don’t really buy into the benefits of omnichannel? As measured in the 2015 ORI, the answer is an emphatic “Yes”. There is undoubtedly value to be driven by bringing your channels into a seamless customer experience, however, retailers continue to focus on the wrong things.

Sadly a retailer with a high ORI score is much more likely to present the customer with a frustrating user journey. In fairness, this is because the 2015 ORI measures things that are easy to measure, as opposed to things that are necessarily important to customers. Requesting email sign-up, loyalty scheme details, feedback through surveys, self-service checkout … is not something the customer asked for. Too often features are driven by something the retailer wants the customer to do, as opposed to something the customer actually values.

If omnichannel means anything, then it surely means making the overall experience (as measured by the customer) greater than the sum of the (channel) parts. So I buy online, but of course, I can return in store. Or I check stock online and can reserve and pick up from my local branch today. I’m certain that if you had quizzed the teams in these top 20 retailers, they would all have claimed to have embraced user-centred design. However, somewhere along the way, the user got lost. There is a reason why good UX has achieved prominence, today 79% of customers would abandon a purchase through poor experience. And this means the totality of the experience with the retailer, not just the digital channels. Executed well, your omnichannel experience can beat the uni-channel Amazon alternative hands down.

It would be easy to think that digital has changed the game in retail in the last 10 years, but in reality, is more a case of “plus ça change …”. Customers still value great products, low prices and convenience, and the most successful retailers have used new capabilities to deliver on these customer fundamentals better.

So what can we learn from retailers that are winning in today’s tough market:

  • Value – in retail it’s hard to beat great products at competitive prices. Increasingly your competitor is Amazon (if not now, soon), and most customers still rank price as their major driver in the choice of retailer
  • Convenience – your points of omnichannel difference are the parts of your offer that sit around the product, like delivery options, collect in store, spread payments, free returns. 60% of customers would choose to shop with a competitor if they offered more convenient delivery options
  • Consistency – whether you like it or not, customers know how they expect interactions to work. Make sure yours works this way

Table Stakes – Amazon continue to raise the bar on customer’s expectations, launching feature after feature, allowing personalisation to customer’s needs. You need to catch up and keep up.