Shopper Experience

What the US can learn from Europe's omnichannel leaders

Italy topped NewStore's audit of global omnichannel adoption across Europe and Australia.

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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.

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