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Retail in 2014: Omnichannel shopping

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The year gone by has been one of innovation and development as retailers move inexorably towards omnichannel, mobile has emerged as a key driver of sales, and click and collect has grown in popularity during the course of the year.

But 2014 looks set to be the year that some of the advances made in 2013 go mainstream. At the same time, forward-thinking retailers will be setting the pace in making retail through several channels still more seamless and convenient.

In a series of pieces starting today, we’ve rounded up predictions for 2014 across a range of subject areas that are key to multichannel and ecommerce retailers. Today, we start with omnichannel shopping. Our next will be on January 1.

Changing expectations

Thanks to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, more people now want to be able to shop using many different channels. A recent survey by SAP highlighted that three-quarters of shoppers think being able to use different channels cohesively is important. The research also showed that in just five years almost half of all purchases will involve more than one channel, with people using physical shops as showrooms, buying online and being kept up to date about delivery via mobile phone.

“ is an example of one retailer embracing multi-channel shopping and bridging the gap between online and offline. For this year’s Singles Day in China, Tmall extended its promotional activity to 30,000 bricks and mortar stores, encouraging people to visit the stores in the run up to November 11 to try out goods. They could then scan product QR codes with their mobile phones to add goods to their virtual shopping cart and automatically receive the appropriate discount.”

James Hardy, head of Europe,

Taking time

Nowadays shoppers take time before deciding to buy; they visit various brand touch points both online and offline – in fact, 40% of people in the UK have admitted to ‘showrooming’. To reflect this changing purchase journey, there will be a shift in industry-standard attribution in affiliate marketing. We will see a move away from ‘last click wins’ models to more dynamic models so that all parties in the shopping journey are rewarded. This means that each publisher contributing to a phase of the purchase journey will profit from a sale.

Mark Haviland, managing director at Rakuten Marketing , said: “Marketers have spent the year getting to grips with big data, and the coming months will be the time to put that insight into action across all devices, to target shoppers based on a single customer view. From shoppable content tools to understanding the multi-faceted customer journey; with the right partnerships in place, brands will be equipped in the coming year to target customers effectively with relevant and personalised content.”

Challenging stores

“We will really start to see the results of digital transformation across retailing in 2014. The challenge for retailers will be increasing in-store revenues. How stores integrate mobile technologies into the buying experience to close the gap between in-store transactions and online shopping will be crucial to their success. Mobile is the glue in any multi-channel strategy for retailers across the board. Customers’ requirements will once again be at the heart of the business, with shops allowing them to find what they want, where they want and how they want it within one integrated brand experience.”

Mark Adams, partner, Portaltech Reply

The brand

“The store is no longer just about products, but also the brand. Companies that approach ecommerce with an omnichannel mindset are better able to understand their customer’s needs and preferences and how best to communicate with them. Each time a retailer engages with a customer, regardless of channel, new information can be gathered on product, payment, brand and preferences. In order to be useful, this information must be centralised, so retailers can deliver a more personalised shopping experience. This can best be achieved by creating a consistent view of the customer across all channels.”

Christophe Marcant, vice president of product strategy, Stibo Systems

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