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Why omnichannel retail is changing how retailers measure success

@SmitBruins via Twenty20

The retail landscape has shifted quite a bit in the last 18 months – with much of the change having been driven by a greater acceptance and use of e-commerce by customers as we move in and out of lockdowns. 

The businesses that were ready for the shift saw their foresight pay dividends, while those caught unaware have since struggled to keep up. 

However, one of the largest pain points for big and small retailers continues to impact the industry at large: how do you read and understand all the transactional data that omnichannel retailing brings to your business?

Traditionally this is achieved through daily reporting but, as many retailers are finding out, the introduction of new ways of doing business such as click and collect, ship from store, and endless aisle are making it difficult for reporting software to keep up. 

“The emergence and rapid adoption of omnichannel retailing, and the merging and blurring of physical and digital sales, has had a knock-on effect of adding a lot of complexity and necessary change in the way businesses measure themselves on a day-to-day basis,” said Wayne Rigney, founder and director of The Retail Score. 

One complication identified by Rigney is if one store in a chain sells a product in another store for a customer to go and pick up: who gets credit for the sale? Is it the store that organised the sale? Or the one that gave up the product?

A similar situation occurs when a product is sold through click-and-collect or endless aisle. Does online get the credit, or the store?

“[Situations like this] have forced retailers across the board to rethink how they report on sales,” Rigney said. 

According to Rigney, retailers need to challenge the way they report on sales and pick the right sales measure to report on different activities. One retailer that is working with The Retail Score to achieve this is APG & Co.

“Over the last three years, APG has rolled out new ways clients can buy products,” said APG head of commercial Paul Fisher.

“Our ERPs recorded sales based on the shipped date as this was the accurate way to record sales from an accounting perspective. 

“However, our retail, e-commerce and product teams increasingly wanted to look at an alternative view of sales based on when the sales demand occurred for purposes of measuring performance by day, the effectiveness of marketing activities and the influence of special promotions and events.”

This simple change led to complications, with APG noting that store budgets had to be rethought – some stores sell much more, while others become valuable for the purposes of shipping out products that other stores sell, and staff levels had to be rebalanced. 

But, the change gave access to new ways of thinking about how successful each store was, and how fast the business could get stock to a customer. 

Many customer surveys rank ‘speed of delivery’ among the top-ranking factors of why a customer chooses to shop with a certain retailer online – the success of express shipping and same-day delivery can attest to that.

Fulfilment time should be a key performance indicator for any retailer, Rigney said, as how soon a customer receives the product they purchased – regardless of how they purchased it – is one of the most influential factors as to whether they shop with a retailer again.

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