We hear lots about the power of technologies linking the store and online – but for every retailers citing the powerful effect of Click and Collect on its sales, how many traders are actually using them, rather than simply talking about them?
Retail technology provider Omnico has come up with some interesting answers into that question – by going out and seeing for themselves.
Researchers canvassed all 90 retail stores on that stretch of prime shopping estate where the iconic London shopping streets Oxford Street and Regent Street meet, and came up with some perhaps surprising results. If a retailer uses such technologies they tend to be in their flagship stores, many of which are to be found in just this area. But it seems that not as many retailers are building bridges between their store and online offering as might be expected.
Take Click and Collect. This was the most widely used technology discovered in the Omnico study – but still it was only used in 44% of the stores visited, followed, some way behind, by video screens (35%).
The figures below illustrate the use of 14 customer-facing technologies in the stores. Just five retailers – EE, Apple, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis and Nike – used six or more.
Omnico also asked Oxford Street and Regent Street shoppers which technologies most improved customer service. The results can be found here, on its YouTube channel.
Those findings in full
Technology % retail stores using it
Order online, pick-up in store (Click and Collect): 44%
Video screens in the shop window: 35%
Order in store for home delivery: 30%
Order in store for delivery to another store: 19%
Customer wi-fi: 14%
Advertisement of social media interaction: 14%
Interactive kiosks: 9%
Tablet assistance on shop floor: 8%
Social media sharing booths/stands: 4%
Using mobiles to scan products and check-out: 3%
Self-service check-out: 2%
Mobile phone loyalty apps: 1%
Electronic shelf labels: 1%
Incentive to check into the store with personal mobile: 0%
Interesting findings. Steve Thomas, chief technology officer at Omnico, said his team were surprised that there wasn’t more prevalent use of such technologies in this prime retail area.
“Even the most popular technology – click and cllect – which provides high street retailers with a simple way of joining together their online presence with the store is used in less than half of retailers.
“Our study also revealed that there is a large gap between those retailers adopting technology and those that aren’t. Only a handful of retailers on Oxford Street and Regent Street are using technology to enhance customer experience, leaving the majority behind the curve.”
There’s certainly potential here to argue that he would say that, wouldn’t he, in his day job as representative of a retail technology business. But Thomas makes a strong case that high street shops must do more to embrace digital in their stores if they are to survive for the future, citing Centre for Retail Research studies that suggest one in five shops could close by 2018.
“While price is a primary factor in shoppers’ decision making, many value convenience,” he said. “The battlelines are drawn against online retailers, where bricks and clicks retailers have the opportunity to make a virtue of their store presence, while embracing new technologies to improve customer service.
“Those retailers that understand how to join up their systems in store with their website and mobile apps are most likely to succeed. Areas such as click and collect are just the beginning – savvy retailers have a single view of the customer and are able to ensure that marketing campaigns are highly targeted and the experience in store is seamless with their app or ecommerce offering.”
Still, if there’s a silver lining to the research, it’s the realisation for high street retailers that it’s not just them – and that there should be time to catch up.