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More Than a Trend, Omnichannel Retail Is the New Imperative for Retailers

Ellen Harvey

Omnichannel retail has expanded rapidly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to shipping constraints and limited product availability, shoppers are looking for greater flexibility to fulfill their orders. Curbside pickup has spiked dramatically, and many retailers have transformed their physical stores into fulfillment centers to keep pace with growing online demand.

These are just some of the trends that Total Retail editor-in-chief Joe Keenan documented in the Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers Report and previewed in the latest Retail Uncharted podcast. Released at the end of October, the report ranks retailers based on their ability to provide omnichannel services, from Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) to cross-channel returns. The report offers competitive analysis for retailers to assess and improve their omnichannel services.

Sidecar’s Director of Product Marketing Mike Perekupka interviewed Joe alongside Sidecar Senior Director of Integrated Digital Strategy Mike Farrell about the report’s most important findings and key strategies retailers can employ now to advance their omnichannel missions.

During the podcast, Mike Perekupka asks:

  • What is the Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers Report?
  • What trend surprised you most from this year’s report?
  • How has COVID-19 impacted retailers’ approach to omnichannel offerings?
  • What verticals performed best in the Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers Report?
  • How should retailers reevaluate their online marketing to better align with omnichannel goals?
  • What are the biggest mistakes retailers should avoid when it comes to omnichannel retail?
  • What is your top prediction for omnichannel retail in 2021?

Top Sound Bites

On the goal of the Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers Report:

Joe Keenan: We wanted to provide an industry benchmark for our audience of retail executives, to provide an opportunity for them to measure themselves against their competitors. They can see where they stand, if they’re on the list, and how they stack up against some of their competitors in their own product categories, as well as other retailers that might be outside of their vertical but obviously still competing for consumers’ wallets.

On the standout trend from the Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers Report:

Joe Keenan: I would say what surprised me is the acceleration of the BOPIS and curbside pickup. We used to only score against BOPIS. This year, we’ve added curbside to the criteria as more and more retailers are launching that service. They want to offer contactless experiences to their customers. 

Last year, 68% of the 100 retailers on the omnichannel index offered some form of BOPIS. This year, 80% of the retailers offered some form of BOPIS and curbside. That is a 12% lift year over year in terms of those offerings.

On the importance of omnichannel shopping leading into the holiday season:

Mike Farrell: I think things like BOPIS and curbside pickup are going to be important, particularly as we get deeper into the holiday season. There’s an expectation that carriers like FedEx, UPS, USPS are going to hit capacity at some point, probably right after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. We’re going to start to see some challenges in terms of delivery dates.

Those programs are going to become increasingly more important for retailers to highlight. Hopefully they have a lot of the kinks worked out, because I do think that shoppers are going to rely heavily on BOPIS later in the season this year to get packages that otherwise might not make it.

On how to successfully implement omnichannel strategies:

Joe Keenan: It comes down to data. You need to understand how your customers are behaving and transacting. Having that rich customer data and having that available across your technology systems, not living in silos, is really important to create a frictionless shopping experience.

Lastly, to Mike’s point earlier, you need to create that awareness that these programs now exist. How are you leveraging your marketing to get that word out there? There’s a new online shopper. You’re seeing this older demographic that might have traditionally gone in the store. They’re turning online in a lot of cases for the first time. So what do we need to think about in terms of our marketing strategy to acquire these first-time online shoppers?

Show Resources:
Top 100 Omnichannel Retailers Report
Joe Keenan’s Bio
Mike Farrell’s Bio
Mike Perekupka’s Bio
Total Retail Website
Sidecar Website
Total Retail LinkedIn Page
Sidecar LinkedIn Page
@MyTotalRetail
@Getsidecar
All Retail Uncharted Episodes