SAP: purchasing across channels set to grow but consumer experience falls short

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In five years time almost half of all purchases (44%) are expected to involve more than one channel, new research commissioned by SAP has found.

However, only 15% of consumers surveyed currently feel extremely satisfied retailers provide a consistent experience across different channels.

SAP UK’s, of 2,000 online shoppers, found 70% of consumers surveyed admit to having a better customer experience when they can choose how they purchase. Whilst three quarters of those surveyed (75%) believe being able to use different channels cohesively (in store, online, mobile) is important.

Chris Osborne, industry principle for Retail, SAP UK and Ireland, said: “The role that physical bricks and mortar stores play is changing. Showrooming is a popular way for shoppers to research products in store before buying them online, often for a better deal. What must be a top consideration for retailers today is to ensure customers can shop across multiple channels and still enjoy a consistent and cohesive experience; ensuring the option to purchase through their preferred route is simple and cost-effective. Understanding this trend will help retailers to retain custom even if purchases are not necessarily made in store.”

The power of personalisation

There are varying degrees to which customers wish to engage across multiple channels, SAP found. It is important retailers take into consideration the preferences of all types of customer; from ‘omni-enthusiasts’ (13%) which cite the use of different channels through which to purchase as crucial, to ‘omni-hesitants’ (22%) which do not regard the use of multiple channels to be of significant importance. Nevertheless, 72% of respondents expect to be able to research, shop, receive goods and receive customer services in whatever way they choose – rising to 83% amongst omni-enthusiasts, researchers showed.

“The only way to understand these differences is to analyse the mounds of customer data each channel gathers during every purchase. The challenge is how you can then join the data up to achieve a holistic view of the customer. As the Christmas shopping period approaches it’s important for retailers to start thinking about how best to engage with customers through their preferred channel in order to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience,” said Osborne.

Consumers recognise the provision of personal data enables retailers to provide a more personal customer experience; 96% of shoppers expect information to be collected about them, said SAP. However the way in which retailers use customer information needs to become more transparent, according to almost eight out of 10 (79%) of consumers surveyed.

Information exchange

The top three pieces of personal information the surveyed consumers expect to be collected of them include online purchase history (65%), payment details (60%), and in store purchase history (43%). However nearly two third of respondents (62%) of shoppers believe their personal data is being invaded either often or sometimes by retailers, suggesting the full benefits of sharing this information are not being recognised.

Osborne said: “Consumers have grown impatient with providing information only to be bombarded by marketing messages on a daily basis. In order to improve the customer experience, and ultimately sell more, retailers need to provide greater transparency around the use of personal information. Until the shopping experience is consistently positive, the benefits over providing personal information are likely to be lost.”