Lampert has for years been emphasizing digital capabilities, and the Shop Your Way membership program, while critics have complained the stores have not seen enough investment, leading to a string of losses that continued in the first quarter.
Forrester researchers looked at the top multichannel retailers in the Internet Retailer 500, and rated each in four categories using 19 different criteria, covering the entire typical customer purchase path.
Sears led the pack with a score of 78 out of 100. That’s compared with Macy’s at 72, Target at 67, Wal-Mart at 64, J.C. Penney at 60 and Gap at 57.
The categories included: online experience, which evaluated the continuity of information and resources across all digital devices; channel consistency, which looked at the continuity of information, resources and experience across both devices and stores; in-store pickup, which looked at the in-store collection process, including notification, availability, in-store waiting time and location, and in-store functionality, which rated the presence and use of omnichannel capabilities in-store, such as “save the sale” when an item is out of stock.
These ratings were weighted according to which ones were most important to the customer, with in-store pickup — which focused on factors like convenience and timeliness — being given the most weight (35 percent). That might be why Sears came out ahead. It’s in-store pick-up score was the highest, at 90, with The Home Depot and Best Buy following, as both had 81. According to researchers, Sears’ in-store collection experience boasted “a dedicated and clearly marked collection area,” and researchers also noted that “Sears has also introduced in-vehicle pickup with waiting times guaranteed to be five minutes or less.”
It’s worth noting that the highest overall score is just at 78, the equivalent of a grade school “C,” and that the U.S. average score was just 65.
Although experts have begun shying away from using the term “omnichannel,” it shows that there is considerable room to improve, from a customer’s point of view.
“All retailers we reviewed have room for improvement,” wrote lead researcher Michelle Beeson. “The assortment of touchpoints that consumers are increasingly using to research and purchase places the spotlight on continuity of information and resources across digital and store touchpoints.”
Specific areas that were found to gain from improvement include having a “persistent basket,” meaning linking a shopping basket and search history based on customer login, consistent pricing between online and off, and manageable and accessible loyalty programs.
The report also stated that continuing to prioritize these capabilities paid off not only because of improved customer service. “They are one of the few initiatives that bring the opportunity to improve both customer satisfaction and operational efficiency to drive bottom-line results,” the report said.