Retailers have embraced the concept of multi-channel retailing, according to Gartner Consulting, with nearly 75% of retailers either having a multi-channel retailing strategy in place, or planning to deploy one.
Between September and December 2001, Gartner Consulting conducted telephone interviews with 375 retailers in the US and Europe to examine their intentions of implementing a multi-channel retailing strategy (MRS). The survey showed that 33% of respondents have an MRS in place, 27% are in the internal discussion phase, and 14% have already initiated discussions with technology vendors.
Vendors should be promoting the integration of a strategy that includes the physical store, kiosks, wireless channels, catalogues and the web, so that retailers are prepared to interact seamlessly with their customers, whenever and wherever the customer chooses.
By demonstrating in tangible and measurable ways the return on investment (ROI) retailers will experience, vendors should able to sell more effectively in a market where businesses are focused on optimising their investments in technology, according to Jeff Roster, senior analyst for Gartner Dataquest's IT Services group. He added, "Vendors should also consider developing partnerships with service providers who can help them meet the ever-increasing requirements of prospective retail customers."
As companies prioritise upgrade plans, the survey revealed that the company web site tops the list of upgrade initiatives. Some 45% of respondents plan to replace, re-engineer, upgrade or develop systems in this area. The next most popular upgrade areas were point-of-sale (PoS) systems, database management systems (DBMS) and in-store devices, as each of these categories was selected by 39% of the survey's participants.
"Developing the company web site figures high in retailers' MRS plans - along with investment in traditional PoS and other in-store systems - because retailers are recognising that the distinction between bricks-and-mortar and clicks-and-mortar no longer exists," said Fred Landis, director for Gartner Consulting's Market and Business Strategies practice. "The online retail channel and the physical retail channel are no longer viewed by retailers as being mutually exclusive. Vendors of retail technology and services must recognise this change and approach retailers with an integrated solution that addresses both channels."
The retailers were asked which system is most important to their companies' retail operations. The results indicate retailers' general willingness to invest in the infrastructure necessary to support all the channels, transaction systems and points of interaction needed to increase customer convenience, loyalty and satisfaction: