GI Insight Study Finds Omnichannel Approaches Are Falling Short

Despite trends showing customers adopting an omnichannel approach to shopping, many companies are struggling to connect with them across multiple platforms, according to research by consumer analysis and data marketing specialist GI Insight.

The company surveyed 1,000 U.K. consumers and found that many shoppers use multiple channels: 71 percent begin their shopping journeys online, while only 18 percent start in-store; but 42 percent eventually buy online and 31 percent in-store, with the remainder reporting they don't have a single purchasing pattern.

"The survey shows that consumers start on one channel—usually the Web—but don't necessarily stay or end up there. Often those that start online end up in store and vice versa," said Andy Wood, managing director of GI Insight, in a statement. "They might also receive offers or do research through other channels—such as smartphones or tablets—along the way. The results indicate clearly that the vast majority of consumers would welcome genuine efforts by companies to take a customer-centric approach that matches their own omnichannel habits."

The study also found that companies are struggling to respond to this approach with successful omnichannel marketing strategies: Only a few customers reported that efforts by businesses to make contact across multiple channels resulted in their making purchases in the past six months. Thirteen percent made purchases after visiting Web sites and then receiving an email offer, 7 percent after mail offers followed by email reminders, 6 percent after visiting Web sites followed up by mail offers, and 6 percent after receiving email followed by text messages.

"Unfortunately, the research also reveals that far too few companies are successfully implementing a true omnichannel strategy—either they are not really using multiple channels to reach consumers or they are not employing customer data to craft coordinated, relevant communications that hit consumers via a range of media at different points in their buying journey. On the plus side, this indicates there are opportunities to gain a competitive edge for those that do execute effectively across all touch points—especially with digitally active younger consumers," Wood said.

These numbers improve when specifically considering 25- to 34-year-olds. Eighteen percent made purchases after visiting Web sites and then receiving email offers, 14 percent after visiting Web sites and then receiving mail offers, 14 percent after receiving email offers followed by text messages, and 13 percent after receiving mail offesr followed by email. These numbers suggest that this more digitally active age group responds more readily to a multichannel marketing strategy. Nevertheless, marketers still have a lot of room for improvement.

"The key today is for brands to harness both long-term offline data, such as transaction records, and real-time online data to achieve a true 360-degree single customer view. This then gives businesses the consumer insight necessary to provide an informed, coordinated, and consistent customer experience that transcends individual channels—which can otherwise languish as unconnected silos. What's more, tapping into both offline and online data enables your company to react fast and win over consumers as and when they're making buying decisions," Wood said in a statement.

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