Multi-channel madness: 47% of retailers believe there are too many channels to sell from

To meet all consumers’ shopping expectations, 94% of organisations have a multi-channel retail strategy in place, but almost half (49%) struggle to evaluate which channel is working for them best.

Omnichannel shopping experiences appear to have become an expectation among consumers and brands have responded to this demand. Almost all (94%) retail CEOs, founders and C-Level executives claim to have a multi-channel retail strategy in place, according to research from Wunderman Thompson.

Despite providing this offering however, almost half (47%) of those surveyed believe there are too many channels for them to effectively deliver the best sales experience. A further 49% of respondents admitted they struggle to evaluate the success of their omnichannel approaches because of the abundance of options.

A lack of certainty underpins the findings from within Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology’s “Brands don’t fail... eRetail!” report, with two-thirds (66%) of the high level managers and executives surveyed conceding they could be using digital channels more efficiently.

Dangers of inefficiency

This inability of businesses to trust that they are performing efficiently and manage their retail offerings could spell trouble if they are unable to get their houses in order, particularly considering the volatile state of the global economy.

Seemingly compounding these issues is the fact 44% of businesses said they struggle to deliver a consistent brand experience across every channel. While 59% of organisations have tailored strategies for individual platforms, roughly one-in-10 (11%) don’t differentiate and 29% are unaware if they differentiate.

Ken Platt, Director of eRetail & Marketplaces EMEA at Wunderman Thompson Commerce & Technology, said: “Online competition is as high as it’s ever been and brands that fail to recognise the unique opportunities presented by different channels risk being left behind by peers.

“It’s not easy to balance coherent and consistent brand principles while devising dedicated strategies for every audience, but it’s a challenge retailers need to overcome. A true omnichannel framework recognises that no channel is perfect and instead focuses on putting all of the jigsaw pieces together."

Easiest channels for sales

Among the channels viewed as the easiest for facilitating sales are marketplaces (35%) and social commerce (33%). Marketplaces’ popularity is not quite as high as perhaps industry experts would expect because they have proven to be somewhat of a double-edged sword.

Two thirds (68%) of survey respondents view these platforms as vital to a brand’s future but 42% portend that the growth of marketplaces poses a threat to organisations long-term success.

A relatively even spread of budget allocation towards each channel has been predicted for 2023, with marketplaces and social commerce both expecting to receive 18% of an organisation’s retail budget. Just 11% is to be committed towards physical stores indicating a further affinity towards the digital medium for retailers.

Don’t miss the retail media express

Growth in digital is further reflected by two thirds of managers and executives having implemented a retail media strategy for their organisation. Somewhat predictably however, more than half (57%) of respondents struggle to find agency partners with the right expertise to help them invest in retail media. 53% find it challenging to identify the right retailer sites to buy media on to drive traffic and sales.

Platt commented on the need for retailers to quickly resolve this confusion: “Retail Media not only uses first-party data and offers better ROI, it offers clarity in a world with fragmented channels and waning budgets. Leaders aren’t on their own when embarking on this journey, but time is ticking and it’s only a matter of time before slow movers are truly left out in the cold.”