Why Retailers Still Struggle To Link In-Store With Online, Adopt Personalization

Insights from real purchases, returns, and customer journeys across digital and physical channels reveals common attributes of successful retailers and opportunities for others to improve customer value and modernize operations, according to research released this week from Google, Manhattan Associates, and Zebra Technologies.

The research, conducted by third-party firm Incisiv Research, analyzes 124 retailers across 11 specialty retail segments on the implementation of 286 key attributes of Unified Commerce.

Of the 124 retailers benchmarked, 15 emerged as leaders. These brands are Academy Sports + Outdoors, American Eagle Outfitters, Belk, Crate & Barrel, Levi’s, Macy’s, MAC Cosmetics, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Pandora, REI Co-op, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, UGG, and Zales.

While it is not a completely new revelation, the data suggests that for retailers to implement a unified commerce solution combining a retailer’s front- and back-end systems to establish one view of the business can be quite challenging.

The report identifies common challenges in retailers’ efforts to adopt this model, including personalization.

Retailers must be able to identify shopper intent and curate a personalized experience that meets their expectations.

Only 38% of the retailers studied give their store associates access to shopper purchase history and wish lists across all channels. Only 20% of the retailers studied provided personalized product recommendations and offers.

As a category, digitally-native vertical brands (DNVBs) outperformed the broader retail sector in this area, with 42% offering advanced personalization capabilities.

Visibility into inventory and the simple ability to search for it are critical for retailers wanting to provide a seamless omnichannel experience. Only 29% of the retailers studied provide real-time inventory information on the company’s product detail pages.

Convenience is about more than just speed of delivery -- it should include the option to make multiple types of payments and deliveries, along with the ability to make changes to an order after the sale.

Only 15% of the retailers studied provided the option to change fulfillment method post-order confirmation. On average, just 27% of the retailers provided the ability to return store purchases online.

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