SD Retail: Retailers slow to adopt store ops strategies to omni-channel world

New York -- Some of the largest retailers in the United States and United Kingdom are not keeping pace at adapting their store operations to changing consumer buying habits.  

That’s the conclusion of a study by SD Retail Consulting, a leading strategic retail advisory firm and unit of Hilco Trading. It found that 80% of the surveyed retailers are not effectively training their in-store staff to accommodate the complex needs of the new multichannel shopper. For example: Only 29% of U.S. retailers surveyed have implemented in-store pick-up options, and only 24% are planning to unveil a pilot program by late 2013. And only 18% have rolled out mobile POS systems across a significant number of their stores.

“The seamless customer experience and speed of change led by pure play e-retailers such as Amazon is setting a high bar for retailers operating both bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce channels,” said Antony Karabus, president of SD Retail Consulting. “The pace of change to meet this high bar needs to accelerate as the pressure from these new competitors continues to grow. The largest retailers must examine every customer touch point and how they play their part in creating that seamless customer experience. For the minority of retailers who are successfully transforming their store environments, the rewards will be substantial.”

Key findings of the report include:  

Mobile POS is rare. Only 18% of U.S. retailers have implemented mobile POS systems across a significant portion of their stores, and in most of those cases, retailers have only rolled it out to select groups of stores, rather than entire chains.  

Further, mobile POS is still typically utilized for only one or two specific uses (i.e. line busting or search/assistance within specific departments), rather than leveraging the full extent of its capabilities (CRM, labor scheduling, traffic counters, etc.)

There is no store associate incentive and recognition for cross-channel selling. Less than 10% of retailers surveyed are currently compensating their associates in some way that recognizes their contribution to cross-channel sales. Retailers with cross-channel customers acknowledge that while the store may not ring the sale, their associates play a critical part in driving company top-line sales, yet methods for compensating employees for contributing to the sale by servicing the shopper in-store (before they actually transact on-line) have yet to be formalized

Store staff are not getting effective cross-channel training. Eighlty percent of retailers surveyed said they have not invested sufficiently in training their store staff on how to handle multichannel customers in-store, whether on how to handle “show rooming,” competitive price-matching, in-store pick-up requests, or addressing specific product knowledge customers may have gained from the web.  

Additionally, fewer than 25% of retailers surveyed indicated that their field management was providing the leadership necessary to drive improved productivity through their physical stores in this new multichannel environment .

According to Joe Madigan, VP store operations, SD Retail Consulting, “multichannel is disrupting store operations across real estate footprint, inventory “location,” customer service and selling and is the most significant challenge to store operations that I have seen in the last 25 years.”