High Street retailers are causing a stir with customers who have purchased items in store only to find they could have saved up to 20% by ordering through the retailer's ecommerce store instead.
The situation came to light recently, after it was revealed that a customer purchased an item from a well-known high street retailer's bricks & mortar store. On returning home, she decided to purchase the same item as a Christmas gift and on visited the ecommerce store of the retailer, found that ordering the same product would now cost her 20% less than if she went back into town and she would also benefit from free postage & packaging.
Scott Storey, MD of CTS Retail, is deeply concerned that retailers could be shooting themselves in the foot with these kind of disconnected online and offline promotions, and could potentially end up turning away loyal customers who will naturally feel 'hard done by', particularly when disposable income is at an all-time low.
"Most people have a basic understanding that prices are usually cheaper online, as the cost of delivering a product directly from the warehouse is much less than via the bricks & mortar store. The issue however, is that the actual 'cost of sale' is a logistical issue for the retailer, not something that the customer is aware of, nor really cares about. All they see is the end ticket price. If they've gone to the effort of visiting your store to buy, only to find they could have bought the same item online for much less money, it's bound to leave a sour taste in their mouth," explains Storey.
Having worked on developing effective multi-channel retail offerings for a number of retailers over the past eighteen months, Storey is only too aware that this is not a one off occurrence, revealing that very few retailers are offering a consistent service across the various channels. He suggests this is primarily due to different departments holding key responsibility for devising and implementing online and offline sales strategies.
"Multi-channel retailing brings with it a number of benefits and opens up the potential to gain many more customers, but also more critically, there is now level of transparency not delivered previously. Customers will now hold retailers accountable for differences in service, price and product quality regardless of what channel they chose to purchase through. It really does highlight the importance of devising a coherent and joined up multi-channel sales strategy. If retailers aren't careful, the race for online sales could actually drive more customers away from their high street stores and potentially lead to further store closures in 2012," warns Storey.