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IRUK Top500 The Customer Report: 2018

IRUK Top500 The Customer Report: 2018

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'Flawless' shopping experiences still rare among multichannel retailers: report

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Less than half of the UK’s leading retailers now offer a click and collect service, according to new research out today.

Only 44% of top UK retailers offer the service, which enables shoppers to buy or reserve on the web and collect in store, the IVIS Group’s first annual multichannel maturity benchmark report, Customer first, channels second, found. It also found that of those that do offer click and collect, 77% enable customers to use the service from both their web and mobile sites while 23% do so only from their websites.

The report analysed the performance of the top 50 retailers by turnover, across the five categories of grocery, department stores, clothing, general merchandise and home improvements.

“We selected the top 50 retailers across five categories because they are investing the most in multi-channel as a whole,” said Paul Bolton, director of product and corporate strategy at IVIS Group.

“We found that while some retailers are leading the way with flawless, joined up customer shopping experiences, these are rare. Instore and online crossover is a growing trend, but the number of retailers offering this service is low - even when taking into account that certain product types may not suit the click and collect model. Retailers need to start thinking like shoppers. Running a unified operation means the customer gets the best experience.”

The study found that some 38% of retailers have not yet optimised their websites for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, although 54% have a mobile app. Of those with a mobile-optimised site or app, 84% have a store locator on the front page, but 55% do not allow customers to check instore stock availability before they shop.

It also found that when it comes to customer service, two-thirds of retailers take telephone calls about online and catalogue shopping, but 34% prefer to be contacted by email or web forms.

Only 42% of retailers send email and text notifications for items ready to collect in-store, suggesting that 58% rely on call centres or in-store staff to infom their customers.

A significant proportion of retailers also lagged behind in providing product information to online shoppers. Some 16% of retailers do not provide exact product dimensions, clothing sizes and materials, the report found, while it said that four per cent gave only patchy information across their product ranges.

Looking at whether retailers show products in situ, such as clothes displayed on mannequins and furniture placed in rooms, only 12% show all products as they would appear. Half leave customers to guess how items will look and 38% of retailers show only certain types of products in situ. Only one retailer currently offers product videos.

Just over a quarter (26%) of retailers currently offer interactive screens in-store where customers can browse products.

“Some retailers are leapfrogging the need for interactive screens as they look directly to the use of mobile in-store and invest in offering wi-fi connectivity,” said Bolton. “Our research found that four per cent of retailers currently offer free wi-fi, with two per cent planning to in the future.”

IVIS Group also researched the top 50 retailers’ activity on social media sites. All but one have a presence on Facebook, enabling shoppers to ‘like’ the retailer or share links. Only two have Facebook stores.

Twitter is the next most popular social channel, with 92% of retailers tweeting. Of these, 87% respond to user queries; suggesting a small number use Twitter purely to push messages out rather than engage with customers.

The report also reveals that more UK retailers are dipping their toes into international waters. Some 34% now ship to overseas locations and 32% trade in one or more countries.

“While internationalisation is an area retailers are looking to for growth, many opportunities still exist in the domestic market if customer-centric best practices are implemented across the channels,” said Bolton.
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