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Retailers are perceiving consumer expectations wrongly when it comes to omnichannel

A consistent omnichannel retail experience is vital to brands being able to keep consumers interested in shopping with them again, according to research from payments company Klarna.

For the ‘Owning Omnichannel: winning at clicks and bricks’ report, 14,695 Klarna users across the UK were surveyed, and it was found that 60% of shoppers will be less likely to shop again with a brand if they’ve had a poor experience on any channel. This is an important figure, because 89% of Klarna shoppers were also found to use multiple channels to search and spend.

In response to this, 73% of retailers are looking to increase their investment in omnichannel strategies, according to a separate survey of 503 UK retail decision makers.

“Today’s consumers shop across a multitude of channels, from brands’ websites and physical stores to social networks and search engines – and they expect a smooth and consistent retail experience whatever channel or touchpoint they are engaging with. So, it’s promising to see that retailers recognise the importance of having a great omnichannel retail experience,” said Alex Naughton, Head of Klarna UK & Ireland.

Interestingly, there is a perception gap between retailers and consumers, with 75% of retailers believing they are either fairly or very sophisticated when it comes to omnichannel, but half of Klarna users feel that the online and in-store operations of users are not yet joined up enough.

This disconnect between the retailer and the consumer is further illustrated by the fact that retailers are misjudging how much shoppers appreciate in-store experiences. 88% of consumers value seeing and feeling the items they’re buying in real-life, yet just 45% of retailers think this important to shoppers. Moreover, 49% of Klarna users like being able to visit showrooms and see items in store, but pay online, versus 32% of retailers who think this adds value for the consumer.

On the other hand, 36% of retailers believe human sales assistants are important to their customers but, in reality, just 26% of customers value that in-store human presence.

In the online world, 84% of shoppers like to see an autofill functionality, but only 33% of retailers believe this adds value to the experience of their customers. Moreover, 65% of consumers mark one-click payments and checkouts as being one of the most important aspects of their online shopping experience, yet just 45% of retailers believe this adds value.

“They [retailers] need to ensure they avoid any disconnect and fully understand shopper priorities. It’s clear in-store shopping is still incredibly important for consumers, so retailers should look at how they can make their stores a more experiential, cultural space that inspires shoppers,” said Naughton.

More positively for retailers, 76% of consumers value being able to check stock levels in-store via a website or app, and 49% of retailers already offer this, with another 38% planning to introduce the feature over the next year. In addition, 74% of shoppers appreciate flexible payment options, and 50% of retailers currently offer this, with a further 34% set to introduce the option in the next 12 months.