What’s In The Way Of Better eCommerce?

RSR has been tracking retailers’ eCommerce strategies for more than 5 years. During that time we’ve seen interest in a major platform refresh, the introduction of mobile and social as eCommerce considerations, as well as convergence — where retailers increasingly view mobile and other non-commerce online activities in the context of their overall digital strategy, with their eCommerce platform as the centerpiece.

Yet despite the best intent, digital convergence has not yet been achieved — it takes only a stroll through a retailer’s online touchpoints to see how disconnected their digital strategy really is. What stands in their way? In our most recent eCommerce report, retailers tell us they have two main operational problems: getting varying channels to work together, and optimizing the ways inventory is deployed across these channels (Figure 1). Everything else pales in comparison.

Figure 1: The Two Up Front

Source: RSR Research, February 2016

By performance, these numbers are only exacerbated. Fifty-eight percent of Winners (not pictured) report optimizing inventory across channels as their top inhibitor. And Winners drive the coordination issue, as well: 54% say that coordinating with other channels in an effort to create a seamless brand experience for the consumer is a top operational challenge. What is even more telling is how quickly both of these issues have risen in prominence in just the past 12 months (Figure 2, below).

Figure 2: On The Move

Source: RSR Research, February 2016

A year-over-year comparison shows that inventory and channel coordination have leapt to retailers’ focal points in just the past year. What can we take from this sudden rise in interest? That retailers are becoming deadly serious about creating the seamless customer experience they’ve been talking about for years now: the deeper they get into action, the more glaringly apparent it becomes that inventory and inter-departmental cooperation need to be dealt with. To put it bluntly: no significant progress can occur until inventory information is reliable — and information can be shared across internal teams with confidence.