• Category: Insights, Retail

IT infrastructure damaging retailers omni-channel strategies

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New research says less than a third of retailers in the UK and the US believe their IT is fully able to support plans to improve the in-store customer experience.

Research by Zynstra found that 20% of respondents said they had to delay or reject a roll-out of new in-store applications as a result of IT limitations, costs or concern, while 98% of respondents said they would roll out new applications and services if it was easier to do.

Given Omnico’s own research recently revealed shopper frustrations with the in-store experience, it’s worrying that retailers feel hindered by their IT infrastructure to make necessary improvements.

In the fourth Omnico Retail Gap Barometer, we found that while the biggest drop in rating an experience good / outstanding over the course of a year was the online channel (a drop in 10%, compared to 7.1% for in-store), online still had a higher positive percentage than in-store. In August 2017, only 48.9% of consumers rated the in-store experience good / outstanding, compared to 51.5% who rated online good / outstanding.

According to research from accountancy firm BDO, online sales grew 18% in 2016, and by 27% over the past two years, while bricks-and-mortar sales fell over both periods. Traditional retailers with big store estates struggle to develop and integrate their online shopping channels, essentially paying twice to serve customers across both channels. This is reflected in the latest Zynstra research that found 35% of retailers said they found delivering consistency of in-store versus the online experience difficult.

Additional challenges cited include the lack of local store IT skills, an inability to easily make changes and upgrades across all branches, and 32% said they actually manage each store as a separate IT installation.

It may seem shocking that retailers are hindered by such challenges, but today with unintegrated legacy systems and new applications added in a bolt-on approach, many brands are starting to crumble under the pressure of an omni-channel experience.

At Omnico we see over the coming 12 months a trend that sees a more diversified, agnostic solution, where apps, terminals and stock management systems all operate on the same infrastructure, regardless of operating system. This will make it much easier to install updates and add new applications.

Customers expect technology to give them a completely seamless experience that helps them save time before, during and after their retail visits. Our Retail Gap Barometer research revealed that 72% of consumers believe improvements can be made to the shopping experience, with 16.6% saying that improvements can be made so that when in a store, they are able to order goods from another branch or from the retailer’s own website – creating a completely joined-up experience.

At Omnico, we envision a more holistic approach to stores IT infrastructure, particularly point-of-sale systems, enabling deployment of a single solution to solve the multiple challenges of today’s retail industry.

To understand more about today’s shopper expectations download our research, sign-up to receive the latest newsletters from Omnico, or contact us now to discuss further.

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