Retailers focusing on beefing up their social media presence without strengthening their logistics abilities to deliver on their heightened image will hurt their market reputation, according to findings of a GT Nexus online survey, conducted in association with global polling company YouGov. It’s the back-end of the multi-channel strategy that will ultimately influence consumers’ propensity to order from a particular retailer, the researchers concluded. “Current consumer behavior indicates that most of us are more concerned with how well retailers are able to deliver goods according to our preferences than we are about ordering via social media channels,” the report states. “While three percent of respondents say they have purchased goods using social media channels, consumers generally cite the inclusion of delivery/collection options as being important to them when ordering a product either online or in-store (75%).”
Survey results showed differences between global regions. European consumers surveyed are less tolerant of service delays, with an average of 65% expecting delivery of purchases made online within three days or less—whereas in the U.S. only 24% of consumers expect delivery in that time frame.
“These results show that retailers are potentially focusing their investments on the wrong thing,” said Greg Johnsen, chief marketing officer at GT Nexus. “It is completely pointless to have fancy user interfaces across all channels if you cannot deliver when and where a consumer wants to receive your goods.”
The rise of the phenomenon known as “showrooming” (browsing in a physical store to test products, then ordering them online) will only add to this requirement for retailers to get physical stock levels, delivery and collection options right at the back-end. Consumers in the U.K. (62%), U.S. (64%) and France (70%) say they have engaged in showrooming over the last twelve months.
Cross-Channel Inventory Management
Effective cross-channel inventory management to enable efficient fulfillment of consumer orders differs in quality across the globe. 31% of U.S. consumers report that they have queried stock availability in a physical store using online tools, and then found the product out-of-stock when going to the store. This practice is less prevalent in Europe. Only 11% of French consumers say they have experienced this issue. On average for Europe, 13% of consumers reported that this is an issue they have run into.
Delivering Related Products
Another area in which retailers could improve their performance is getting more back-end support for “recommendation engines.” The survey shows that despite the widespread use of merchandising related products in online stores, retailers have not cracked the issue of delivering related products (such as an iPod and headphones, or a bike with a helmet) ordered at the same time, together. U.K. retailers appear to do best at this, although a significant 34% of U.K. consumers stated that they had this experience at least once. Almost half of consumers in the U.S. (46%) and France (45%) say they have experienced this issue at least once.
Expectations for Delivery Time
86% of those surveyed said they would wait longer for a delivery if promised a 10% discount on their purchase. This is an interesting contradiction to the finding that consumers expect goods to be delivered in a short time span. When offered only a slight discount, their willingness to wait for a product vastly increases.
“To really fulfill the promise of ‘anytime, anywhere shopping,’ retailers need to get better overall at linking their inventory management and delivery tools to the front-end shopping experience,” Johnsen concluded. “However, the fact that our research shows that consumers are prepared to accept slower delivery times in return for discounted prices means that there is scope for retailers to be creative about how they tackle this multi-channel opportunity.” concludes Johnsen.