UK retailers behind the omnichannel curve

UK retailers are struggling to meet consumers' mobile and in-store expectations, a new Accenture study finds. And they must move quickly to improve their operational capabilities in order to provide a seamless experience. For the second consecutive year, Accenture’s Seamless Retail research indicates a number of gaps between consumer expectations and the ability of retailers to deliver what they want across a growing number of channels.

A survey of 750 UK consumers shows that only 40 per cent found it easy to complete a purchase using a mobile device, and 38 per cent cited in-store as the aspect of the shopping experience most in need of an upgrade. They want stores to increase capabilities such as the ability to order out-of-stock products (21 per cent) and free WiFi so that they can browse online whilst in-store, without having to use their data plans (15 per cent). Other popular demands include having the ability to scan products in-store (14 per cent) and having real-time promotions sent to their mobiles whilst in or around a store (13 per cent).

“While physical and digital commerce is converging rapidly, UK retailers are still behind the curve in terms of their mobile and in-store offerings,” says Fiona O’Hara, managing director of Accenture’s UK Retail practice. “The fact that UK shoppers want to check inventory on their mobiles, order out-of-stock products and have promotions sent to them while in-store, suggests immense potential for retailers to enhance investments in mobile applications that bridge a customer’s online and offline experience seamlessly.”

Physical stores are still important, despite an increase in shopping activity online, especially in sectors such as consumer electronics and clothing. While 34 per cent of respondents expect to purchase more online in 2015, almost all still find it easiest to purchase in store – 29 per cent of UK shoppers who are purchasing online after business hours are using Click and Collect services, as compared to the global average of 15 per cent. The survey also revealed a growing consumer expectation for transparency and consistency in pricing: 87 per cent of respondents expect a retailer’s prices to be the same in-store and online, up from 77 per cent last year. Additionally, 57 per cent want to always access the same promotions online that they have in-store.

For online orders, two of the fastest growing fulfilment methods in the UK are ‘ship to home’ and ‘pick up in-store’– 30 per cent and 26 per cent of UK shoppers respectively are using these options more often than last year. There is also an increasing interested in reserving online, and then trying in-store before deciding whether to buy a product - 48 per cent would be interested in using this service to shop for clothing and accessories while 41 per cent use it for electronics. The survey also points to an increased demand for faster shipping – 58 per cent of consumers think it is important. 34 per cent, compared to 28 per cent last year, consider next day delivery as the most important option. That said, UK shoppers are willing to compromise on speed for free delivery, with 37 per cent happy to wait four to five days.

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