How US Retailers Stack Up in the Global Omnichannel Race

In some key areas, offerings in US trail other countries 

Author: Andria Cheng

October 5, 2017

A new study gauging retail omnichannel efforts in seven international markets found that US retailers are turning in a mixed performance.

For instance, only 29% of US retailers offer click-and-collect services, far behind 67% of retailers in the UK, according to an OrderDynamics study of more than 1,000 retail websites. All of the retail sites analyzed were for retailers with at least 10 physical stores and included major brands such as Walmart. The countries covered in the study were the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and the three Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland and Norway. US retailers represented about a third of the sample.

Not only are US retailers lagging with click and collect, they haven’t done a good job of advertising those offerings, missing an opportunity to attract shoppers who consider that a key purchase consideration. For instance, among US retailers with buy online and in-store pickup features, only 38.5% inform customers about that on their front page, compared to more than half to two-thirds of retailers in each of the six other countries in the study.

“This means that the American retail environment is still in the early phase of omnichannel adoption,” the report said. Despite the US being a world leader in marketing, it said, it is the worst at advertising in-store pickup offerings.

Other communications tactics, such as alerting customers that their pickup is ready, were also a challenge for the US retailers. Only 6.3% of US retailers offer more than one notification method, such as text and email, compared to the 17% of retailers overall in the study that offer two notification methods.

“Given the growing importance of the Millennial and Generation Z consumers, retailers need to expand customer notifications,” the report advised.

However, when it comes to free-shipping offers, the US is not a laggard: 67% of US retailers offer that, compared to 55% in the Nordics region. Only Canada beats the US at 75% of merchants that offer free shipping, according to the study.

Similarly, the study showed that US retailers have the lowest average minimum basket (about $56) required to qualify for free shipping. The seven-country average is $62. In Australia, average minimum basket requirement was $77. (However, that may be about to change. With Amazon’s expected 2018 launch there, the minimum-order threshold in Australia is expected to drop, the study noted.)

Given consumers' increasing demand for instant gratification, the study found that retailers in many markets weren't necessarily meeting the need for speed. Just 20% of the retailers studied commit to having an order ready for pickup within a four-hour window. More than one-third of retailers in the study offer a pickup delay window of more than 24 hours and sometimes days.

The allure of speedy fulfillment is clear in a survey by Walker Sands, which found that more than one-third of the internet users surveyed said next-day and same-day shipping would encourage them to make a purchase online.