Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Cross-Channel Retail Brands Still Playing Catch-Up

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Despite ecommerce being a standard part of any retailer’s strategy, these two sales channels have sadly remained mostly distinct from each other. The reasons for the retailer are fairly simple (technological barriers, ease of operations, etc). But these reasons don’t pass muster with consumers who expect to be able to interact with one, integrated retail brand regardless of which sales outlet they prefer.

A recent study by eMarketer shows that retailers are starting to see the importance of consistency and integration between online and offline sales channels. Only 38% of retailers let you check the inventory at stores through their website, but another 19% of retailers said they would develop this capability within the next 12 months. The increasing penetration of web-enabled phones and mobile commerce will make this cross-platform integration even more important.

What is shocking is the lack of innovation from brands in this space. The new features that are being added to most sites (looking up inventory, pick-up and return of online purchases to a store) provide a basic level of consistency to a retail brand that is important, but hardly revolutionary.

Once these features are in place, retail brands will hopefully start finding ways to truly leverage their cross-channel capabilities. Revolutionary changes will come when retailers stop aiming to not disappoint their customers and start focusing on delighting them. Without knowing the technology of tomorrow, some examples could be cross-promotions between channels, in-store customer support on your smart phone, or GPS enhanced returns.

What do you think? Have you been delighted by cross-channel sales from any retailers?

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Written by benwisebranding

January 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm

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