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UK retailers lag behind the US in gaining a single view of the customer

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A detailed investigation into multi-channel retailing in North America and in the UK, conducted by Martec on behalf of BT and Epicor, has found that there are significant discrepancies between North American and UK retailers.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Transactional web sites are now the norm, with 94% of retailers interviewed now having an online store. 69% have call centres and 47% have catalogues. Kiosk usage is much higher in North America, however, at 43% vs 10% in the UK and mobile commerce is more widely used in North America too (23% against 5% in the UK).

  • The biggest concerns retailers have about multichannel retailing are increasing customer conversion rates, maintaining information about customers across channels and motivating store personnel.

  • In terms of organisation, the most common division to be responsible for non-store sales is e-commerce (36% of retailers), followed by marketing and buying and merchandising. Within each functional area practice varies as to whether separate e-commerce teams exist. The majority of logistics functions do not have separate teams for e-commerce as opposed to store distribution. The majority of marketing departments do run separate teams while buying and merchandising and IT split differently by geography.

  • The researchers identified a marked difference in retailers that have a separate warehouse for non-store channels between the UK and North America. 67% of UK retailers prefer a dedicated warehouse for non-store business compared to only 46% in North America.

  • Far more North American retailers carry a consistent assortment in all channels than in the UK. The researchers put this down to the fact that most North American retailers have operated in multiple channels for longer. However, nearly twice as many UK retailers carry the same categories online as in store compared to their North American counterparts.

  • The majority of retailers provide consistent pricing across all sales channels (80%). Of those who don't, it is generally by design, not because of systems restrictions.

  • Retailers are pretty satisfied with the level of integration of their processes across channels. Supply chain and buying processes and systems scored fairly well, with lower scores for marketing and business intelligence.

  • Only 45% of retailers have a cross channel order management system but only 10% plan to implement one, leaving a large proportion of retailers with no visibility of and access to stock across channels.

  • North American retailers are ahead of the UK regarding a single view of the customer. 60% of US retailers have a single view of the customer compared to 62% of UK retailers who do not. US retailers are also better at capturing customer data in store.

  • Cross channel cannibalization is not seen as a problem but only 25% of retailers measure it. In spite of the lack of information, however, 82% do not consider it a problem.


Readers can download a copy of the full research findings from BT Expedite's website.
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