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October 4, 2013

SAP survey: retailers struggling to keep up with omni-shopper expectations

Customers demand a more consistent experience across online, in store and mobile.

By Ben Sullivan

New consumer research has found that in five years time almost half of all purchases, 44% to be exact, are expected to involve more than one channel. Despite this, only 15% of consumers surveyed currently feel extremely satisfied that retailers provide a consistent experience across different channels.

In an independent survey commissioned by SAP (UK) of 2,000 online shoppers, it was found that 70% of consumers surveyed admit to having a better customer experience when they can choose how they purchase. Whilst three quarters of those surveyed believe being able to use different channels cohesively (in store, online, mobile) is important.

Chris Osborne, Industry Principle for Retail, SAP UK and Ireland, said: "The role that physical bricks and mortar stores play is changing. ‘Showrooming’ is a popular way for shoppers to research products in store before buying them online, often for a better deal. What must be a top consideration for retailers today is to ensure that customers can shop across multiple channels and still enjoy a consistent and cohesive experience; ensuring the option to purchase through their preferred route is simple and cost-effective.

"Understanding this trend will help retailers to retain custom even if purchases are not necessarily made in store."

SAP say it is important that retailers take into consideration the preferences of all types of customer; from ‘omni-enthusiasts’ (13%) which cite the use of different channels through which to purchase as crucial, to ‘omni-hesitants’ (22%) which do not regard the use of multiple channels to be of significant importance. Nevertheless, 72% of respondents expect to be able to research, shop, receive goods and receive customer services in whatever way they choose – rising to 83% amongst omni-enthusiasts.

"The only way to understand these differences is to analyse the mounds of customer data each channel gathers during every purchase. The challenge is how you can then join the data up to achieve a holistic view of the customer.

"As the Christmas shopping period approaches it’s important for retailers to start thinking about how best to engage with customers through their preferred channel in order to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience," continued Osborne.

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