Research reveals best UK retailers for omnichannel consumer experience

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Digital and multichannel consultancy Practicology has announced the results of the ranking in its first Omnichannel Customer Experience Report.

The report identifies how well a selection of major non-food retailers support customers who are using a combination of stores, mobile and the web in order to research products and complete purchases.

Several different cross-channel shopping journeys that customers might take were identified, and a scoring matrix was devised to rank each retailer against how well they supported each journey. As part of the research, Practicology visited each retailer’s website, downloaded their mobile apps, visited their stores and assessed their online and offline marketing.

Argos came top of the ranking, followed closely by House of Fraser and John Lewis. All three brands demonstrated extensive support for shoppers who use multiple touchpoints before completing a purchase, Practicology said. This included providing online tools and information to help shoppers who want to complete purchases in stores, and using in-store technology, signage and store staff for the benefit of shoppers who need to complete purchases online.

Argos scored marks for factors including offering Live Chat on its site which was helpful when tested, an easy to use store locator tool on its site, showing store stock availability online, dedicated desks for collecting online purchases in store, TV and email marketing that promote both its stores and website and having a branded eBay presence.

Retailers who did not score as well in the research fell down on factors including not replying to email queries (more than 20%), store staff not mentioning the website when asked a query about an out-of-stock item, a lack of signage in stores to show where to collect online orders, no click-to-call customer service phone number on their mobile site and having blog or editorial-style content that was not shoppable, meaning once customers view the content they then have to search the site to find the items promoted.

The research also highlighted benchmarks for retailers of what they need to deliver to ensure a competitive customer experience, and where retailers can improve to make the experience they provide across sales and marketing channels seamless. This includes:

  • 67% of the retailers mention or promote their website on signage in their stores
  • 80% have product ratings & reviews on their website
  • 43% include a store stock checker on their product pages, so customers can find nearby stores with the product in stock
  • 70% sell giftcards that can be redeemed online
  • 63% offer free WiFi in their stores
  • 37% offer an e-receipt when purchasing in stores
  • 17% offer same-day delivery options
  • 50% reply to an email customer query within 24 hours

Practicology chief marketing services officer Nicola Hollow said: “While researching the experience that each retailer provides, we’ve visited sites and stores, downloaded apps, tested customer services and viewed advertising. At each stage in the customer journey we’ve asked the question ‘Does this feel like a seamless experience for the customer, and would they always feel like they were dealing with the same brand?’”

She added: “Increasingly consumers use a variety of touchpoints with a brand before they complete a purchase – whether it be their website, mobile app, a store, customer services or marketing. The results and accompanying advice should help retailers to think about how to cost-effectively optimise the experience at every stage of the customer journey.”

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