Retailer Embraces Multi-channel selling

Many established retailers have struggled with embacing their e-commerce ventures and have seen modest results. Several brand name retailers have got fantastic high street presence and deliver consistent results but even with large investments into e-commerce initiatives their online business ventures have been underperforming. In a recent article from Computer Weekly it is evident that both John Lewis and Waitrose are reaping the benefits of multi-channel selling.

“John Lewis and Waitrose have attributed an increase in sales and customers to their growing omni-channel offerings. In their Interim results, John Lewis saw a 25.6% year-on-year increase in online sales, which now account for over 30% of all merchandise sales, while Waitrose recorded £161m gross online services sales. Most of this success comes from its Click & Collect service, which accounts for more than half of the John Lewis online orders. Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: “Click & Collect sales have grown by nearly 50% and now make up over half of online orders. In addition, a continued focus on our mobile strategy has led to over half the traffic to coming from mobile and tablet devices.Recently, supermarket competitor Tesco took the opposite approach, announcing it will be cutting costs from its IT budget to save money.”

Why is the successful transition from a traditional high street retailer into the digital world so challenging? The internet has been around for 20 years, we have seen tons of failures and successes so isn’t it just enough building a simple website? There are undoubtedly several reasons why that journey from brick & mortar to online retailer is so difficult.Assessment of internal capabilities: Does the organisation have the fit for purpose systems, optimised processes and right people in place to fully embrace a cohesive multi-channel strategy?Big budget for marketing: Consumers often don’t associate the traditional names with an online presence and awareness takes time and costs a lof money. Invest heavily in a new site design: Well thought through user journeys should improve conversion rates. There are still too many sites with poor user journey’s where consumers don’t complete a purchase out of pure frustration at the poor customer experience. Cultural change across the organisation: Shopfloor employees need to view the e-commerce site as an ally rather than a threat to jobs. Store staff on the shop floor will need to embrace online promotions, use tablets where possible to engage the customer. A retailer must incentivise store staff to embrace the digital channel.

The list of challenges and recommendations is significantly longer, but that might get discussed in a future blog posting.