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ANZ retailers struggle with omnichannel experience
Mon, 25th Mar 2024

According to a new study by Manhattan Associates, retailers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) are grappling with challenges related to inventory accuracy, which is hindering the delivery of a smooth omnichannel shopping experience. The research revealed a significant gap between the aspiration for seamless integration of online and offline shopping platforms and actual implementation.

Retailers stated that they only had a precise indication of inventory across their entire operations 68% of the time, with a mere 4% reporting 100% accuracy. This discrepancy underlines an urgent issue in the retail sector, where inventory 'blind spots' directly influence consumer satisfaction and financial outcomes.

Raghav Sibal, Managing Director, ANZ, at Manhattan Associates, highlighted the importance of resolving this issue in the current economic climate. He said, "In a time when consumers are more reluctant to part with their money, creating a frictionless shopping experience is not just an advantage – it's a necessity." He further added that, based on the research, if a product is out of stock, 36% of consumers prefer having the alternative to find it at a nearby store or consider a similar item. "Retailers who streamline this process, making every interaction and transaction as efficient and engaging as possible, can convert browsers into buyers," Sibal emphasised.

Consumer expectations clearly endorse quick solutions when products are unavailable in-store, signalling a robust demand for technologies that enhance stock visibility and availability across various channels. With less than half of retailers (47%) offering the service of online purchases and in-store returns, the study underscores the need for further integration.

The research also pinpointed potential solutions, such as the adoption of RFID tags - currently employed by 43% of retailers - to improve inventory accuracy and thus enhance customer experience. However, it was found that only 34% are utilising RFID technology to ensure accurate, real-time stock levels. And 63% of consumers place a high value on product expertise, stressing the significance of knowledgeable shop assistants.

Sibal said, “Equipping staff with the necessary tools and information is just as vital as investing in technology to ensure they can deliver informed and engaging customer experiences. It is critical for retailers to streamline their operations and technology to cater to the modern shopper, who doesn't think in terms of channels but requires a flawless experience no matter the method, time, or place of purchase."

As per the study's findings, while retailers in ANZ understand the importance of omnichannel strategies, the challenge lies in its complex implementation. Going forward, it is not sufficient to merely offer integration; retailers must rethink traditionally held ideas around assets and operations, making shopping as easy in person as it is online.