Less than half of the UKs top retailers offer click and collect, according to new research
While 77% of retailers offering click and collect gave customers access to the service on both their web and mobile sites, 23% only offered it via their websites.
The research by multi-channel specialists IVIS Group analysed the top 50 retailers, classed by turnover across five categories - grocery, department stores, clothing, general merchandise and home improvement. IVIS said the results showed that many retailers are providing an inconsistent customer experience across in-store, online and mobile channels.
The company looked at how mobile is linking online and in-store shopping and found that consumers could access all 50 retailers on smartphones and tablet devices. More than a third (38%) of retailers had not optimised their websites for these channels, however 54% of retailers had a mobile app.
Of those with a mobile optimised site or app, 84% had a store locator on the home page. Over half (55%) did not allow customers to check in-store stock availability before going shopping.
Paul Bolton, director of product and corporate strategy at IVIS Group said: "We selected the top 50 retailers across five categories because they are investing the most in multi-channel as a whole.
"We found that while some retailers are leading the way with flawless, joined up customer shopping experiences, these are rare. In-store and online crossover is a growing trend, but the number of retailers offering this service is low - even when taking into account that certain product types may not suit the click and collect model. Retailers need to start thinking like shoppers. Running a unified operation means the customer gets the best experience."
IVIS Group analysed elements of customer service, and found that two thirds of retailers were happy to receive telephone calls about online and catalogue shopping queries and orders while 34% preferred to be contacted by email or web forms.
42% of retailers sent email and text notifications for items ready to collect in-store, indicating that over half (58%) were not taking advantage of technology to keep customers informed, instead relying on call centres or in-store staff.
The research showed that a fifth of the UK’s top retailers provided little or no product information to online shoppers. 16% of retailers did not provide exact product dimensions, clothing sizes and materials, while 4% gave patchy information across their product ranges.
Looking at whether retailers show products in situ, such as clothes displayed on mannequins and furniture placed in rooms, only 12% showed all products as they would appear. Half left customers to guess how items would look and 38% of retailers showed only certain types of products in situ. Only one retailer offered product videos.
Just over a quarter (26%) of retailers offered interactive screens in-store, allowing customers to browse products.
"Some retailers are leapfrogging the need for interactive screens as they look directly to the use of mobile in-store and invest in offering wi-fi connectivity,” added Bolton. "Our research found that 4% of retailers currently offer free wi-fi, with 2% planning to in the future."
IVIS Group researched the top 50 retailers’ activity on social media sites. All but one had a presence on Facebook, enabling shoppers to ‘like’ the retailer or share links. Only two had Facebook stores.
Twitter was the next most popular social channel, with 92% of retailers tweeting. Of these, 87% responded to user queries.
The report also revealed that more UK retailers are dipping their toes into international waters - 34% shipped to overseas locations and 32% traded in one or more countries.
"While internationalisation is an area retailers are looking to for growth, many opportunities still exist in the domestic market if customer-centric best practices are implemented across the channels," Bolton concluded.
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