Ampersand comments on the state of multichannel following the release of the agency’s 2019 Multichannel Retail Report.
2018 was a turbulent year for retail, with large high-street retailers closing their doors and a challenging retail environment shaking many others. This month, we released our 2019 Multichannel Retail Report and this year’s findings pose an interesting question. Are the usual suspects still the best-performers? Or, are we seeing newcomers steal a charge? Are the new high-growth retailers winning the fight thanks to a lack of financial constraints and more organisational agility?
Our leading whitepaper report researches the latest trends and insights in multichannel retail and identifies the top and bottom-ranking high street retailers in the UK, scored against the core tenets of multichannel retail; mobile performance, positive UX, multichannel technologies, click and collect, delivery, returns and payment.
The leaders of multichannel in 2019
Our analysis of 200 retailers in the UK has identified New Look, Schuh and Argos as leaders of multichannel. It is no surprise who some of the top ten retailers in our full rankings are but there are others who have unexpectedly invested in their multichannel experience and achieved high scores.
The criteria in our multichannel report is focused on two areas; convenience and customer experience. It’s clear that the top retailers this year have integrated the digital and the physical, and those who have fallen behind have faced challenges in these areas.
The most improved retailers, compared to our previous report released in 2017, include Thomas Pink, Miu Miu, The Whiskey Shop, H&M and Mulberry. In contrast, retailers who have seen significant decreases in their score include House of Fraser, Pull&Bear, Interflora, LEGO and Russell & Bromley.
What do the top performers have in common? What traits do they share?
Click and collect
All of the top retailers in our report are able to offer fast click and collect (defined as next day or sooner). Most retailers have built relationships with partners such as myHermes, Doddle, Collect+ and HubBox in order to offer these services either to store or non-store locations.
Although, alongside this, they absolutely need comprehensive integration with the ecommerce and logistic platforms they use, and it’s certainly telling that only 33% of retailers can offer in-store click and collect next day or sooner, and only 17% can offer this same-day.
Another must-have for top performing retailers is next day delivery. Akin to click and collect, we see retailers use delivery partners to offer quick and affordable delivery and use this advantage to differentiate themselves from competitors. However, again, this needs integration with their warehouse management systems, inventory management systems and/or a PIM.
A significant 81% of retailers can offer next day delivery (although only 7% can offer same day delivery), so there are evident improvements in the delivery landscape for retailers.
Our report covers a range of best practice on-site UX features, including in-store stock check online, geolocation functionality on stock checkers and store finders, faceted navigation and product zoom. All of our top retailers embrace these features and ensure their on-site customer experience is as useful and intuitive as their in-store experience.
35% of retailers use in-store stock checkers online, which is a positive increase from 27% of retailers in 2017.
Payment and checkout
A high conversion rate is necessary for multichannel retailers and a streamlined checkout experience is key. All of our top retailers take advantage of guest checkout and persistent cart functionality in order to reduce cart abandonment and improve conversions.
Increased digital capability for retailers
On average, scores within our report have increased this year. Retailers across the industry are developing their multichannel customer experience and we have seen a marked improvement in digital capability.
However, some retailers are still struggling to make significant progress in technical developments. For retailers locked-in to legacy, monolithic platforms this is challenging. These retailers must redouble their efforts. Their survival depends on matching the accelerating pace of change. Without this, they will never meet the growing demands of tomorrow’s shopper.
Ampersand is a straight-talking ecommerce agency. They help ambitious retailers who want to make a step-change with their ecommerce agency. Architect and delivery solutions that create better customer experiences and positive operational change. A team, full of smart people focused on tackling hard problems.
The Ampersand 2019 Multichannel Retail Report is available now, including detailed scoring information and the full ranking of the 200 retailers.