As the UK’s major retailers struggle to cope with the omni-channel – fulfilling shopper demand whether products are bought in-store or through online channels – the research carried out by business consultancy Deloitte shows that supermarkets need to consider the crucial role mobile phones are playing in purchasing decisions.
“There is a lot of talk around the growth of mobile as a sales channel but actually the importance of the mobile is its ability to influence the in-store environment,” said Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at business consultancy Deloitte.
“We found that consumers who use their mobile phones as part of their shopping – to research products or to find a store; to compare prices, to socially engage with their friends and their family – are not only significantly more likely to purchase in store, but they spend 40–60% more on the category.
“The overwhelming evidence from us is that by understanding and harvesting the sort of role that the mobile plays within that actually increases store sales.”
The latest research, revealed at a seminar organised by legal firm Eversheds in London yesterday [October 3], builds on similar work conducted by Deloitte last December called UK Food and Beverage 2020 – A growing global appetite.
“The omni-channel is about a retailer’s ability to have a single view of a customer regardless of whether they are shopping on their mobile phone, whether they are visiting a store, or whether they are shopping on a laptop,” said Perkins.
While the omni-channel was currently taking up a lot of retailer time, Perkins said many were struggling to come to terms with its complexities. It is a criticism that other experts in the field have made before.
“For me the more significant and interesting point around [the omni-channel] is in order to fulfil that promise you need a single view of your stock,” said Perkins. “How can you serve that customer regardless of channel if you don’t know where the product is?”
Retailers and their suppliers
Perkins added that closer collaboration between retailers and their suppliers would be critical: “There are very few retailers that actually have the ability and capability; the supply chain structure in the right way to actually deliver an omni-channel experience.”
As more and more sales move online, even those stores that aren’t big in this area will increasingly be influenced by the technology, said Perkins.
It will force supermarket bosses to review what stores look like in future: including their location, size and shape, he said. “This is the issue that lots of retailers are struggling with now. It’s right-sizing the real-estate; it’s working out what is the impact of click and collect on the through-store traffic. Is it sensible to be directing it back to the supermarket to pick up their general merchandise? How do they deal with that? How do they deal with returns?”
Perkins said: “There really is fundamental change running through the retail market. By understanding that change and better tailoring their product offer to that is one way in which the food and beverage companies can really tap in to that demand.”