What Are Retailers’ Top Omnichannel Priorities? - Retail Innovation Conference & Expo

What Are Retailers’ Top Omnichannel Priorities?

Every year, Retail TouchPoints surveys its community of industry executives to understand their top omnichannel challenges, successes and priorities. Although historically, retailers have focused on the strategic benefits of omnichannel, such as creating a consistent brand experience and reacting more quickly to changing market dynamics, this year, results pointed to more executives wanting to connect omnichannel investments to bottom-line benefits.  

When asked to share top objectives for their omnichannel strategies, executives outlined:  

  • Maximizing the value of brick-and-mortar stores;  
  • Improving customer retention (31%);  
  • Reducing product returns (29%); and  
  • Making fulfillment services more cost-effective. 

Because more respondents are looking to connect their omnichannel investments to tangible business outcomes, the Omnichannel & Fulfillment Benchmark Study for 2023 saw a surge in new revenue-creation opportunities, such as:  
 
Retail Media 
 
Nearly three in 10 retailers (28%) called marketplaces effective tools for achieving their omnichannel brand strategy, double the 14% that chose this option last year. And the percentage of respondents that don’t sell on or operate marketplaces at all shrank this year, from 16% in 2022 to 9% in 2023. 

Although most respondents connected marketplaces to brand-building, customer acquisition opportunities, they also appreciated the more tangible benefits: 38% cited faster, more cost-effective shipping, up from 21% in 2022. Marketplaces also are increasingly seen as data-gathering tools, rising from 28% last year to 31% this year.  

Last Mile & Fulfillment  

More than half (54%) of retailers said active physical stores are the final locations for inventory prior to delivery. However, retailers are more likely to use third-party services to handle the actual mechanics of picking, packing and delivering items to consumers: 53% of 2023 respondents said they used third-party services such as Instacart, DoorDash and Uber Eats, up from 45% in 2022.  

 
Some data from the survey validates this new reality: 65% of retailers responding to the 2022 survey had assigned in-store staff to picking and packing orders, but that percentage dropped to 56% in 2023. Moreover, while 60% of retailers provided dedicated space for order prep in stores in 2022, that number dropped to 43% this year.  

 
Returns  
 
Returns are a reality for retailers across categories — and they can have a significant impact on bottom-line results if they are not managed effectively. A mere 29% of respondents said reducing returns was their most important strategic business objective for their omnichannel strategy, however, many respondents called out various challenges they face with their product returns:  

  • The cost of returns shipping and handling (67%);  
  • Minimizing fraudulent returns (54%);  
  • Cost of inspecting returned items and re-integrating them into sellable inventory (46%); and 
  • The cost and logistics of crediting shoppers’ accounts or providing refunds (44%). 

Because the 2024 Retail Innovation Conference & Expo agenda will explore the evolution of the customer journey, the purchase and post-purchase experience will be integral to executive panels and presentations. See the speakers we have confirmed and stay tuned for the agenda, which will be unveiled soon! In the meantime, be sure to review the variety of pass-types offered this year to see which makes the most sense for you and your team!  

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