Why Retailers are Slow to Go Omnichannel

While at IRCE 2015, I sat down with MarketLive founder and CEO Ken Burke to talk, basically, about the state of the ecommerce industry… and I steered away from the prepared list of questions to get his thoughts on omnichannel.

First, full disclosure: I’ve blogged before about how I love the concept of omnichannel, and it’s a no-brainer that it fails at the store level. Based on my own way-past experience as a retail store manager, and coupled with my wife’s very-recent experience as a retail store manager, plus my own experience as a shopper, it’s obvious that stores are chronically understaffed (Quick snarky rant: Adding that extra $7/hour, working an 8 hour shift, to meet the needs of the customer is going to TOTALLY cut into the CEO’s salary!). Even then, the part-time, under-paid in-store sales clerk is often under-trained, and cannot help you complete your omnichannel purchase.

Ken Burke agreed, and he said that’s a big part of the reason you’re seeing a slowdown of omnichannel roll-outs.

“I will tell you retailers are very sensitive to getting it right, the ones I talk to, and that’s why you’re still seeing the roll-outs very slow,” Burke said in the above video. “Not all retailers are going for this right now because they want to make sure the infrastructure is in place.”

Buy online, pickup in store is supposed to be a major differentiator for omnichannel retailers. But a study by StellaService last fall showed that buy online, pickup in store really isn’t all that that convenient.

StellaService found that for buy online, pickup in store shoppers, 58% of their time in-store was spent at the checkout desk (3.1 minutes on average). For context, the checkout process for in-store shoppers was more expedient – representing only 15% of their in-store time (1.1 minutes).

Technology-wise, buy online, pickup in store is a game-changer. But you still need the human element at the bricks and mortar level to complete the customer experience.