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Largest Retailers Slow to Adapt to Needs of Omni-Channel Shopping Environment, Study Finds

Some of the largest U.S. and U.K. retailers are slow to adapt their store operations to changing consumer buying habits, according to a study by SD Retail Consulting, a retail advisory firm and unit of Hilco Trading, LLC. Surprisingly, the study found that 80 percent of retailers surveyed are not effectively training their in-store staff to accommodate the complex needs of the new multichannel shopper.   The study surveyed Retail Operations Leaders from 35 leading retailers including Department Store, Specialty Retail, Big Box, Grocery and Convenience Store chains, mostly with revenues of over $1bn (50 percent of which are publicly traded).

Largest Retailers Slow to Adapt to Needs of Omni-Channel Shopping Environment, Study Finds

"The seamless customer experience and speed of change led by pure play e-retailers such as Amazon is setting a high bar for retailers operating both bricks and mortar and e-commerce channels. The pace of change to meet this high bar needs to accelerate as the pressure from these new competitors continues to grow," said Antony Karabus, president of SD Retail Consulting.  "The largest retailers must examine every customer touch point and how they play their part in creating that seamless customer experience. For the minority of retailers who are successfully transforming their store environments, the rewards will be substantial."

Significant findings of the report include:

" U.S. trails U.K. for in-store pick-up of web-based orders: Only 29% of U.S. retailers surveyed have implemented in-store pick-up options, and a mere 24% are planning to unveil a pilot program by late 2013. These figures represent a stark contrast to U.K. retailers, where 78% of retailers surveyed have deployed in-store pick-ups. U.K. retailers continue to improve on the convenience of in-store pick-up programs, testing additional benefits such as free parking for customers who pick up during morning business hours

" Mobile POS Is Rare: Only 18% of U.S. retailers have implemented mobile POS systems across a significant portion of their stores, and in most of those cases, retailers have only rolled it out to select groups of stores, rather than entire chains. Further, mobile POS is still typically utilized for only one or two specific uses (i.e., line busting or search/assistance within specific departments), rather than leveraging the full extent of its capabilities (CRM, labor scheduling, traffic counters, etc.)

" Store staff are not getting effective cross-channel training: 80% of U.S. and U.K. retailers said they have not invested sufficiently in training their staff on how to handle multichannel customers in-store, whether on how to handle "show rooming," competitive price-matching, in-store pick-up requests, or addressing specific product knowledge customers may have gained from the web. Additionally, fewer than 25% of retailers surveyed indicated that their field management was providing the leadership necessary to drive improved productivity through their physical stores in this new multichannel environment

" No store associate incentive and recognition for cross-channel selling: Less than 10% of retailers surveyed are currently compensating their associates in some way that recognizes their contribution to cross-channel sales. Retailers with cross-channel customers acknowledge that while the store may not ring the sale, their associates play a critical part in driving company top-line sales, yet methods for compensating employees for contributing to the sale by servicing the shopper in-store (before they actually transact on-line) have yet to be formalized.

Source: SD Retail Consulting

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