Survey: Retailers struggle with omnichannel growth

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Retailers are aware of sharp increases in BOPIS and curbside pickup orders, but are falling behind in their response.

According to a new survey of retail executives from Incisiv and Manhattan Associates, 97% of respondents expect BOPIS and curbside pickup orders to either stay the same or increase over the next six months. Eighty-five percent ranked inventory accuracy as a top priority to improve BOPIS and curbside pickup options. 

The survey showed retailers are taking some steps to manage growing omnichannel commerce activity. More than seven in 10 (72%) respondents are planning to increase store space dedicated to online order fulfillment, and almost half (48%) are planning to offer associates guided steps to pick an online order. 

Despite this planned dedication of store space and staff to omnichannel order fulfillment, 54% of respondents said their store teams lack the data and tools to converse with customers digitally, and 85% said their store teams can't share personalized look books or promotions digitally. Store teams at 71% of respondent organizations cannot currently manage engagement, checkout and fulfillment tasks via a single interface.

In addition, store associates at 88% of respondent organizations do not have the ability to sell an in-store item to shoppers remotely. Perhaps it is not surprising that an increase in the volume of online orders fulfilled from stores has led to reduced profitability for 79% of respondents. 

“Brick-and-mortar retailers still hold an important place in the evolving retail landscape, and how well brands embrace these changes to the store footprint will directly impact their overall profitability,” said Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer, Incisiv. “We recommend retailers focus on delivering safe, convenient in-store order fulfillment options. Equally important is enabling associates to communicate with shoppers digitally and providing a high-quality, consistent cross-channel experience.”

"The e-commerce uptick of the last twelve months has necessitated a realignment of how retailers approach leveraging store associates, locations and inventory," said Kevin Swanwick, VP, store solutions, Manhattan Associates. "Associates became pickers and shippers; stores turned into mini fulfillment centers, and in-store inventory was increasingly made available online."

Manhattan Associates commissioned Incisiv to conduct an executive survey across 143 high-touch (non-grocery) retailers who offered at least one method of store-based, online order fulfillment at the time of the survey.