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For brands and retailers, omnichannel is no longer optional.
That’s a big learning from the pandemic, when demand for online shopping surged, and retailers built up capabilities to extend the shopping experience across digital and physical stores.
While ecommerce sales growth may slow from its breakneck pace to move back to its previous trajectory, the capabilities built by brands to serve shoppers wherever they happen to be aren’t going to be taken away anytime soon.
It has reoriented how brands think about the elements that are necessary to put in place for success in retail.
“Brands have to be all in on omnichannel, so there is no one tool that is more important than the rest,” said Phil Granof, CMO of NewStore. “Capabilities like BOPIS, BORIS, endless aisle, and store fulfillment have become table stakes for every brand. Going forward, retailers should focus on building seamless, omnichannel experiences that meet the needs of their customers, regardless of where they are located. That means offering solutions that best meet the individual needs of their business.”
However, the parts of those experiences will be adjusted as technology develops, and consumer behavior shifts. Retailers will still have to act quickly to respond to shifts in demand, Granof said. That has been evident in the years since 2020. While the pandemic lockdown phase has passed, the macroeconomic environment driven by inflation and interest rates is now upending day-to-day processes, and reshaping priorities and budgets.
What was built to meet the last moment can be refined in this one.
“Today, it’s important for these businesses to take stock of what’s working and what isn’t — especially when it comes to the quick fixes implemented to meet an immediate need a few years ago,” Granof said. “Now is the time for brands to invest in a tech stack built for the long haul vs. patching together solutions that simply fill a gap. At the end of the day, successful brands are defined not by resiliency but by their adaptability, and omnichannel is the best safeguard against the unpredictable nature of retail.”
Global omnichannel leaders
With benchmarking in mind, NewStore set out to identify the leaders in omnichannel around the world, and compiled results in the first-ever global edition of the Omnichannel Leadership Report. The software company recently conducted an audit of 275 retail brands across six markets including Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.
Leveraging third-party mystery shoppers, NewStore found the following brands were the leaders:
- Marks & Spencer (U.K.)
- Calzedonia (Italy)
- Moncler (Italy)
- Gucci (Italy)
- Cotton On (Australia)
For North America, there are lessons to be learned from other regions. NewStore found that Italy topped the U.S. in omnichannel maturity to achieve the #1 ranking, with a score of 40% overall adoption to 36% for the second-place America. Plus, many of the markets surveyed in this report were among the leaders.
North America remains the overall regional leader, but there are still international trends that provide lessons for brands here. Granof shared the following two areas where Europe shines:
Mobile shopping apps are becoming increasingly popular in Europe. In Spain and the UK, more than 40% of retailers have shopping apps, while only 33% of brands in the U.S. and Canada have one. There could be massive opportunities here, as retail sales from mobile apps are expected to grow 50% this year, Granof said.
Payment innovation. This is an area where the U.S. is lagging behind Europe. Only 76% of retailers accept contactless payments in the U.S., while the adoption rate sits at 96% in Europe. However, there could be room for the U.S. to make gains. Features like Tap to Pay on iPhone allow retailers to accept contactless payments without a terminal, providing room to catch up without the need for a hardware installation. It underscores how the latest technology can help brands leap ahead.
Trending in Shopper Experience
Still, plans to buy big-ticket items ticked up.
Those were a couple of the words used to describe consumer confidence in May. The Conference Board reported that the index fell to a six-month low amid debt ceiling anxiety and increasing concerns about employment.
“Consumer confidence declined in May as consumers’ view of current conditions became somewhat less upbeat while their expectations remained gloomy,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economics at the Conference Board, in a statement. “...While consumer confidence has fallen across all age and income categories over the past three months, May’s decline reflects a particularly notable worsening in the outlook among consumers over 55 years of age.”
The dip among those over 55 came as Congress negotiated a deal over increasing the debt ceiling that included talk of cuts to programs such as social security and Medicare. While officials reached an agreement over Memorial Day weekend, the Conference Board’s survey was fielded prior to that date.
The job picture appears to be more anecdotally cloudy, as the number of consumers reporting jobs as “plentiful” fell to four percentage points to 43.5%. The job market has been consistently robust for nearly three years, as unemployment remains near historic lows. In April, the economy added 253,000 jobs, which remained a positive sign despite being below the gains of prior months. The confidence reading comes ahead of fresh data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.
Despite the declines, there were signs that consumers are not completely pulling back on big-ticket items. Plans to buy big-ticket items such as cars and appliances ticked up on a monthly basis. It’s worth watching whether this extends to providing resilience in other discretionary categories, which have seen a pullback in early 2023.
Nevertheless, the index offered another sign that the consumer mood is getting more pessimistic. It was the fourth time in five months that confidence fell. On Friday, the University of Michigan offered another with a consumer sentiment report that showed a 7% dip.
Brands and retailers must work to reach consumers that are increasingly in less of a buying mood than the month before.