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Shopping in shops that have no shops

Chris Field
Chris Field

It’s not just retailers that have ignored the importance of omnichannel retailing.

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) reminds us in its recent study, Shopping in shops that have no ‘shops’ that when people shopped online in 2015, 49% of spending – or 49p in every pound – went to retailers that had no permanent physical store. This, says the analysis, is “not a blip – it’s actually a growing trend – up from 41p of every £1 spent in shops online in 2010″.

That is a timely reminder that, while everyone hates the term omnichannel, it does not negate the need for retailers to get better at building all of their channels around the needs of the customer. Something the vendor community has been saying (in unison) for a number of years now.

The problem is, many vendors are not walking the talk. Possibly because their clients are short-sighted, they also end up with myopia.

In practice what this means is the technologies that are being implemented are only optimising the single channel that they are aimed at. The results in no way help retailers get closer to the goal of consistency of offer and service across every channel.

Vendors may argue that this is not their problem; they were asked to fix up the bathroom not the whole plumbing system. And that’s a fair point to make. The problem is, who is going to champion the cause of omnichannel retail, long after the term omnichannel has lost credence?

No single industry body influences all of core retail, so it is not down to them. And vendors are working in a competitive market to secure whatever work they can, even if the strategy underpinning it is flawed. So it takes courage to be the lone voice that threatens its sales pipeline whilst crying in the wilderness.

But, I would say, this presents the perfect opportunity for the bold vendor to stand out, and that works as well for a corporation as a start up. Because what we can all agree on is that companies today have to stand for something.

For more retail insights follow me on Twitter – @ChrisFieldFW – or visit our sister site, Retail Connections.

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