Executive Briefings

The State of Cross-Channel Operations: 2008

Retailers are continuing to evolve toward tightly integrated cross-channel operations and will be making significant investments in technology, infrastructure, and organization over the next two years to implement this strategy. Challenges remain, however, as retailers grapple with fragmented systems architectures, align organizational structures, and integrate warehousing, merchandising, analytic, and business intelligence systems; in-store kiosks; web stations; and mobile devices into their cross-channel environment. Key findings:

Investment in cross-channel continues--21% of retailers report cross-channel budgets of between $5M and more than $10M in 2008, with the average budget across all retailers pegged at $2.6M in 2008.

Major evolution toward third-generation systems--46% of retailers plan to upgrade to their third-generation platform by 2010. Only 7% of retailers have already completed this transition, while 34% plan to stay with their first- or second-generation systems.

Complex and challenging IT infrastructure--78% of retailers use point applications or application suites with extensive customization, creating a highly-tailored but very complex infrastructure that can be challenging to evolve to cross-channel operations. Only 20% report using application suites from a single vendor with minimal customization.

Organizational commitment--61% plan to have a dedicated cross-channel executive
team by 2010; 34% have no plans to put a dedicated executive team in place.

Integration and operations still a challenge--Tightly integrated cross-channel
operational systems and procedures are still a work in progress. Only 30% reported
having tight integration between cross-channel and merchandising systems, only 15%
report tight integration with logistics and reverse logistics systems, and only 5% can provide well-integrated cross-channel loyalty services.
AMR Research

Retailers are continuing to evolve toward tightly integrated cross-channel operations and will be making significant investments in technology, infrastructure, and organization over the next two years to implement this strategy. Challenges remain, however, as retailers grapple with fragmented systems architectures, align organizational structures, and integrate warehousing, merchandising, analytic, and business intelligence systems; in-store kiosks; web stations; and mobile devices into their cross-channel environment. Key findings:

Investment in cross-channel continues--21% of retailers report cross-channel budgets of between $5M and more than $10M in 2008, with the average budget across all retailers pegged at $2.6M in 2008.

Major evolution toward third-generation systems--46% of retailers plan to upgrade to their third-generation platform by 2010. Only 7% of retailers have already completed this transition, while 34% plan to stay with their first- or second-generation systems.

Complex and challenging IT infrastructure--78% of retailers use point applications or application suites with extensive customization, creating a highly-tailored but very complex infrastructure that can be challenging to evolve to cross-channel operations. Only 20% report using application suites from a single vendor with minimal customization.

Organizational commitment--61% plan to have a dedicated cross-channel executive
team by 2010; 34% have no plans to put a dedicated executive team in place.

Integration and operations still a challenge--Tightly integrated cross-channel
operational systems and procedures are still a work in progress. Only 30% reported
having tight integration between cross-channel and merchandising systems, only 15%
report tight integration with logistics and reverse logistics systems, and only 5% can provide well-integrated cross-channel loyalty services.
AMR Research