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Omnichannel retailers meet demand better than pure play counterparts

Traditional omnichannel retailers are delivering a better online shopping experience than pure play online only retailers, a recent survey by Manhattan Associations has found.

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Of the Australian shoppers surveyed, over 70% said that they have shopped online since COVID-19 restrictions came into place, and more than half said they are shopping online more than they did prior to the restrictions.

Interestingly, 41% of respondents said they had a better experience shopping online with omnichannel retailers, while 31% said the experience was better with pure play retailers.

Manhattan Associates managing director, Raghav Sibal said, “While the common assumption is that pure play retailers will create better online experiences for shoppers because that is their single focus, our research shows this is not always the case.”

He added, “It is positive to see that while traditional omnichannel retailers are facing hardships due to reduced in-store shopping or having to close their retail stores entirely during COVID-19, they are rising to the online shopping challenge and coming out on top.

“It’s likely this is the case because they own and control their entire inventory, and even if they don’t always have 100% visibility of the inventory, they can be confident it is in their own warehouse or stores. Whereas pure play retailers don’t often have this luxury because they rely on third party suppliers – many of which might be located offshore.”

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While the research showed positive feedback, there is still room for improvement, with all retailers falling short of consumer expectations in some key areas. For example, 40% of omnichannel and 31% of pure play online retailers had been out of stock of items consumers wanted to purchase.

There was also slower than indicated shipping and delivery, with 28% of respondents saying this was the case for omnichannel and 29% for pure play retailers. Further, 27% of omnichannel and 18% of pure play retailers had a limited product range available online.

“While retail companies have invested a lot of time and money into their online platforms, the spike in activity caused by COVID-19 has highlighted areas for improvement. This research shows that retailers – both omnichannel and pureplay  – have been caught off guard by this impossible to anticipate surge in online orders, and faced unnecessary bottlenecks and delays in their supply chain because they don’t have the systems in place that offer the necessary flexibility and scalability to rapidly respond,” Raghav said.

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