Multi-Channel Integration: Some Retailers are Struggling

Businesses in the retail sector have some changes to make if they want to adapt to the shifting expectations of their customers and keep them coming back.

A digital world has made this agility all the more crucial by introducing an array of new interactive touch points, channels of communication and live help technology.

Just when retailers think they have mastered their approach to ecommerce service, the moving target of consumer demand forces them to pursue another route to ensure that their audience does not take its business elsewhere.

This article originally appeared on the LiveLOOK blog

While adopting new interactive channels was once the main focus of most online retail efforts, priorities have shifted to integrating these touch points to provide a seamless experience throughout the customer journey.

According to RetailTimes, a recent retailer survey from eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply, integration has been a persistent challenge for many businesses in the sector. In general, brands were supposed to deliver a full range of standard digital channels up to par with the competition, but only 34 percent of the businesses believed that their touch points were effectively integrated, down from 48 percent two years previous.

This change is largely due to the increase in the amount of channels utilized, as 63 percent of retailers said they leveraged four or more at once – a spike of 20 percent from the year before.

Related article: Maximize Customer Lifetime Value by Improving all 360 Degrees of a Customer’s Experience

Where are retailers being held back?

If the number or quality of a brand’s interactive channels is not the issue, why is integration such a daunting task for so many companies? According to the research, existing technology systems created barriers for nearly two-thirds of the surveyed retailers, suggesting that a cohesive approach to multi-channel ecommerce service is more of a challenge than it appears.

The report noted that a lack of understanding with respect to channel usage and consumer preferences could be one of the primary roadblocks to an integrated shopping experience, as half of the respondents claimed that they were “not aware” or “not aware at all” of how many visits the average customer makes before a purchase, or where these visits are made.

Retailers struggling to integrate their multi-channel approach may feel that leveraging more interactive touch points is the last thing they need, but a recent blog from BrandExcitement showed that utilizing more traditional methods of communication, such as call handling, direct mail and loyalty programs can be the key to customer satisfaction in an Web-centric retail environment.

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