Retailers adopt multi-channel approach

The retail sector is largely embracing multiple channels of retailing, utilising the Web, catalogues, kiosks and physical stores to target customers, according to the results of a Gartner Group survey.

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By  Zoe Moleshead Published  July 9, 2002

The retail sector is largely embracing multiple channels of retailing, utilising the Web, catalogues, kiosks and physical stores to target customers. According to a Gartner Group survey nearly 75% of respondents have a multi-channel retail strategy (MRS) in place now or have plans to deploy one in the future.

33% of respondents have an MRS in place, a further 14% are in discussions with technology vendors for solutions and 27% are in the internal discussion phase for adopting multi-channel strategies.

“Vendors should promote the integration of an MRS strategy that includes the physical store, kiosks, wireless channels, catalogues and the Web, so that retailers are prepared to interact seamlessly with their customers when and where the customer chooses,” said Jeff Roster, senior analyst, Gartner Dataquest's IT Services group.

“By demonstrating in tangible and measurable ways the return-on-investment retailers will experience, vendors will be able to sell effectively in a market where customers are focused on optimising their investments in technology. Vendors should also consider developing partnerships with service providers who can help them meet the ever-increasing requirements of prospective retail customers,” Roster added.

The Web is the primary channel of investment for most retailers according to the survey. 45% of respondents are planning to replace, upgrade or develop systems on the net.

“Developing the company web site figures high in retailers' MRS plans along with investment in traditional point-of-sale and other in-store systems because retailers are recognising that the distinction between bricks-and-mortar and clicks-and-mortar no longer exist,” explained Fred Landis, director for Gartner Consulting's market and business strategies practice.

“The online retail channel and the physical retail channel are no longer viewed by retailers as being mutually exclusive. Vendors of retail technology and services must recognise this change and approach retailers with an integrated solution that addresses both channels,” he added.

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