One in five pounds was spent online during December 2015, a significant rise on the previous year. According to the BRC the shift online was led by household appliances, footwear and furniture, with toys and baby gear also growing quickly, seemingly boosted by soggy weather encouraging shoppers to stick at home.

The increasing levels of online shopping continue to test retail supply chains and suggests that those retailers that aren't already going omni, may need to adopt omni-channel principles to thrive. However, in our recent report, The Omni-Channel Journey we found many more retailers acknowledging the challenges of becoming an omni-channel retailer.

In 2015, far fewer retailers than before are claiming they have completed their move to omni-channel. In fact, twice as many retailers this year recognised they are in transition, compared to 2014. It’s clear, achieving an omni-channel transformation is much harder than many retailers originally thought – and the increasing realisation is: It is not just about the sales front end, it is about transforming the whole business.

We identified four Retail Archetypes in our 2014 report: The Omni-channel Dilemma. These continue to help define the retail industry landscape today and are:

  • Omni-channel Pioneers – fully committed to transforming front-end and back-end operations to deliver a seamless experience for their customers
  • Omni-Channel Followers – recent converts to investing in omni-channel retailing without a fully integrated business model. Followers tend to be focused on the front-end solution and run the risk of not establishing the core processes and systems for long-term success and ultimately not delivering on their customer promise
  • Optimised Multi-Channel/PurePlay retailers – they have made a strategic decision to adopt either a multi-channel or PurePlay approach, often very successfully
  • Challenged Multi-Channel retailers – who are still trying to adapt to a multi-channel world by bending existing bricks and mortar infrastructure. This group is in danger of terminal decline, with lacklustre growth reported.

Our most recent report also found that in 2015 there has been a significant growth in the proportion of retailers being identified as Omni-Channel Followers – which has risen from 27 per cent to 37 per cent of the total. This is largely the result of a strong transition from Optimised Multi-Channel retailers and PurePlays to Omni-Channel Followers. Retailers appear to have woken up to the reality that the future is an omni-channel one – with more starting the journey and falling into the Omni-channel Follower archetypes this year.

They recognise the model that they are in as less sustainable than they had previously thought and that the future isn’t just a Bricks & Mortar or online format – but the future is a hybrid one. Customers are demanding and expecting retailers to move in the omni-channel direction, but as the whole business will need to be transformed – those that haven’t started – will need to very soon.

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  • Stuart Higgins
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