Study Shows Consumers Want More Omnichannel Fulfillment Options

September 15, 2015

The next generation of shoppers will expect more omnichannel fulfillment options, according to a research conducted by German consumer behavior experts GfK.

The firm finds that so-called “leading-edge” consumers are driving the future of shopping, with their requests indicating a strong desire for retailers to provide extensive online purchase options, in addition to traditional in-store solutions. Experts increasingly believe that a failure to meet these omnichannel expectations could be the kiss of death for any retail business, regardless of size, scale, or brand recognition.

Why do they believe this when a majority of customers still flock to stores?
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Early adopters, habitual shoppers, and online influencers are typically a good indicator of trends, despite the fact that they make up only 15% of the population. About 70% of these consumers say they can find everything they need online, and major names in retail, from Lowe’s and Macy’s to Best Buy and Target, are winning them over with omnichannel solutions.

Even so, that doesn’t spell the end of actual stores, as ecommerce purists so often claim.

While much of the product research and purchase process can be achieved online, there are still some clear advantages to having a physical space for consumers to handle, compare, and pick up their purchases. Add to that the serendipity of wandering into a store when out at the mall or in need of a break, as well as the convenience of collecting orders directly rather than waiting for a delivery, and you have the essence of omnichannel fulfillment. Rather than one channel cannibalizing another, retailers are starting to see that each can support the others and consumer expectations reflect that combining elements of each should be a seamless experience.

In fact many industries are starting to close the loop on digital and physical world products in this way. In the world of publishing, content writers who started as online outlets are starting to publish quarterly print magazines, a format that few would peg as a smart business move, at least when viewed in isolation. Taken as a way to serve a niche market of tactile readers with deeper premium content, however, it can be seen as an adventurous move to support the more snackable online content.

Similarly, mobile apps are the flavor of the day in many developer circles, but not many would advocate dumping traditional websites or customer contact numbers in favor of a purely mobile play. Each channel should support the others wherever possible, which is why omnichannel is a term you’ll continue to hear in the headlines and these very pages.

Set alongside the recent acquisition of online retailer Zulily by QVC, it becomes pretty clear just how important omnichannel fulfillment will increasingly be for the future of retail. Whenever leading customer sentiment aligns with action from big brands, you know it’s time to reflect on your own operation!

If you could use some help getting your supply chain in shape for the digital challenges ahead, don’t hesitate to contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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