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Retail’s Omnichannel Mystery Machine: Why Are Customer Journeys Still So Disjointed?

As the retail industry cruised through the recent holiday season, several colleagues and I decided to take a look at just exactly how well retailers around… View Article


Retail’s Omnichannel Mystery Machine: Why Are Customer Journeys Still So Disjointed?

As the retail industry cruised through the recent holiday season, several colleagues and I decided to take a look at just exactly how well retailers around the world were delivering omnichannel experiences. So we shopped. A lot. And I do mean we shopped. We shopped hundreds of stores. We shopped websites on our desktops and we shopped on mobile sites. We downloaded mobile apps and shopped them, too. We bought stuff in stores. We bought stuff online. We bought stuff on our mobile phones. And we tested every flavor of fulfillment.

In total, we shopped 92 retailers on five continents, and we carefully documented every journey. We then tallied the results of each journey in our Customer Experience Index, a tool we developed to objectively measure the breadth, personalization and integration of retailers’ omnichannel brand experiences.

And our findings surprised me. In fact, some of our findings shocked me. Because here’s the thing: As an industry, we should be well past some of the things we discovered. Heck, we should be well past a lot of the things we discovered.

Overall, the retailers we shopped offered a mere 37% of the omnichannel capabilities that we sought to test. This surprised me because, for the most part, we were looking for foundational capabilities that most shoppers have come to expect: integrated experiences across channels that give them flexibility and continuity and that reward them for their interactions, no matter where they occur.

Did most retailers we indexed offer most of the basics? Sure. Most retailers we indexed did indeed offer a wide variety of omnichannel options. They have stores and they have websites and they have mobile sites and apps, all of which are supported by a decent handful of fulfillment options.

But what they don’t have, somewhat shockingly at this point, is tight integration between those offerings — at least from a customer’s point of view, anyway. We didn’t attempt to evaluate back-end technical integration in any way, shape or form. We simply evaluated whether or not our interactions followed us across channels and touchpoints. And we found that far too many retailers simply lost the thread. Instead of being integrated and empowered, the vast majority of our interactions were isolated and impersonal.

To better understand retailers’ omnichannel maturity, we scored each retailer from 1-100%, with 100% being a retailer that offers every capability we evaluated against.

Rather than describing the results for you, I will let a few of our findings tell the story:

  • The retailers we indexed scored just 29% on their mobile apps. Carts begun online were very often invisible to the apps, and vice versa.
  • Despite the availability and proliferation of mobile devices, retailers only scored 12% on mobile POS. Most simply didn’t offer a mobile alternative in their stores.
  • There was even a large discrepancy between mobile website experiences (44%) and experiences on their mobile apps (29%).
  • The retailers we indexed scored just 31% on our integration index, which measures whether the features offered were integrated across the appropriate touchpoints.
  • Those same retailers scored just 24% on our personalization index, indicating that even basic personalization capabilities are sorely lacking.

I could go on, but you get the picture. We clearly still have a long way to go. And I am positively mystified as to why it’s taking so long to catch up to these basic expectations. Maybe 2020 will be the year that the industry starts to catch up. I don’t know. But we’ll keep shopping, and we’ll report back again when (if) things change.

In the meantime, take a look at the full results from Aptos’ Customer Experience Index here. 

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