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The scale of retailers’ underpreparedness

Against the backdrop of compressed margins and relentless competition from the large retailer players such as Amazon, and with more than 45,000 retailers reporting to be in financial distress, it’s no exaggeration that the retail landscape is now a battle for survival – with omnichannel at the epicentre.

We recently spoke to hundreds of retailers to get their perspective on their omnichannel mastery. The findings were eye-opening:

  • 91% of retailers have an omnichannel strategy in place – but only 8% think they have mastered it
  • 70% consider their omnichannel approach a “work in progress” ”struggle” or a “pipedream”
  • A total of 74% of retailers and brands are not satisfied with their omnichannel strategy, execution and progress
  • Just 12% of retailers believe they have the right omnichannel technology currently

Our findings told us that while most retailers were giving lip service to omnichannel and had a plan in place, the majority are failing to provide the seamless buying experience that customers now demand.

In today’s relentless and hyper-competitive retail environment this is clearly not a sustainable long-term position for any brand and the retail landscape is littered with examples of businesses that have failed to move with the times, and have paid the price.

Consumers now expect their shopping interactions to be barrier-free, consistent and personalised. This is the crux of omnichannel, and, unfortunately the majority of merchants are failing to deliver that.

Retailing is undergoing a transition that it has never experienced before; integrating sales channels and keeping up with the pace of change are huge challenges as technology continues to revolutionise the way retailers interact with their customers.

On the flip side, our research also highlighted the opportunity for those retailers who are able to implement their approach effectively. More than six in ten shoppers now consider  customer service to be more important than price when it comes to brand choice.

And so,  merchants that are able to deliver an authentic omnichannel experience are at significant advantage over their competitors. Merchants no longer have the time come to terms with what omnichannel means for their business. They must act now, or be left behind.


Derek O’Carroll is the CEO of Brightpearl , a cloud-based ERP that works with  retailers and wholesalers to implement back-office automation.

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