If retailers were getting graded on their omnichannel options, they’d get a big, fat C. Not terrible — but far from great. NewStore, a mobile retail platform, released the findings of its “NewStore Mobile Retail Report,” which reviewed mobile web sites, native apps and in-store experiences of 140 luxury, lifestyle and apparel brands. To collect the results, NewStore sent out undercover shoppers to observe retailers’ common practices.
“To deliver what modern shoppers are looking for, brands need to live and breathe mobile,” said Stephan Schambach, founder and chief executive officer of NewStore. “We live in an age where obsessive connectivity and instant gratification are expected, and brands are struggling. Our omnichannel report card reveals that the industry has not significantly evolved over the last 12 months. Despite mobile providing an ideal platform to bridge the gap between online and off-line, few brands are taking advantage of its potential.”
The investigation found that despite overwhelming amounts of information surrounding consumers’ expectations for mobile experiences, retailers have done little to update or add native shoppable apps — only one in five offered one at the time of the research.
According to the report, retailers and brands should look to Sephora’s mobile experiences for guidance. “Sephora has utilized mobile technology to connect the online and off-line experience. Customers have instant access to a personal bar code on the Sephora app that ensures in-store purchases can be easily credited to their accounts,” the report said. “They can also book an in-store appointment. Once inside the store, Sephora encourages iPad use by customers and associates, allowing both access to the same product information and beauty suggestions.”
Casting more transparency into real-time inventory levels also had room to improve, the authors found. “Only 25 percent of store associates provide real-time inventory information on the store floor via a smartphone or tablet,” a NewStore spokesman said.
Sales associates can’t sell what they can’t see — for an example, look to Abercrombie & Fitch, the report suggested. Not only are sales associates armed with mobile devices to track real-time in-store and online inventory levels, shoppers in physical stores can also read peer reviews by scanning an item’s barcode.
Despite the hype surrounding personalization features, retailers continue to lag in deploying customized options. This area scored the worst of the categories — the query found that only 3 percent of apps send personalized promotions through push notifications and 24 percent of brands’ mobile websites have chat functionality. “Clienteling has yet to be implemented to its full potential, with conversational commerce, in-store appointments, and access to omnichannel purchase history offered by only a minority of brands,” the report said.
Amazon remains the primary example of transaction simplicity and order fulfillment. The researchers found that 34 percent of brands accept ApplePay in-store and 19 percent of associates were able to offer endless aisles through smartphones or tablets.
“Brands are challenged by legacy applications, organizational silos and myriad point solutions. These are significant barriers to providing an omnichannel experience,” said Phil Granof, chief marketing officer of NewStore.
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