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Digital Channels 'Vital' to Retail Success

Having multichannel capabilities is becoming a key factor for retailers.

Research conducted by IMRG, eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply found companies that sell using multiple platforms expect sales from online and mobile portals to account for 45 per cent of their total revenue by 2014. By this time, sales from brick-and-mortar stores will drop to 40 per cent of a typical firm's income.

The study indicated that having multichannel capabilities is vital in the current trading environment. 98 per cent of businesses surveyed are already running two or more customer touchpoints - a 12 per cent increase from 2011, while there has also been significant growth in the number of firms operating ecommerce and m-commerce solutions, with use of these platforms up by eight per cent.

However, it was noted that organisations looking to improve their sales options need to focus closely on making sure their various services are integrated. This may involve ensuring websites and mobile ecommerce hosting solutions deliver a consistent experience, with clear branding and a high quality of service.

The research found only 35 per cent of retailers believe they have done enough in this area, which is a fall of 13 per cent since last year. The limitations of existing technology solutions were named as the biggest barrier preventing retailers from achieving their vision for creating multichannel platforms. Therefore, it could be highly useful for companies to investigate advanced ecommerce hosting solutions to see if this can give them an advantage.

Managing director at IMRG Andrew McClelland said: "As these figures reveal, achieving a fully integrated multichannel solution poses a significant challenge for retailers due to the sheer range and diversity of channels through which consumers expect to have a high quality, consistent experience."

He added the pace of change in the technology industry, coupled with squeezed IT budgets at many enterprises, means consumers can often adopt new devices such as smartphones and tablets faster than retailers can respond to integrate them into their systems. Therefore, businesses that can react swiftly to emerging trends and offer a good experience may stand well-placed to outperform their rivals.

It was also noted by Derek Eccleston, head of research at eDigitalResearch, that it is worrying that some companies are still having issues developing a consistent multichannel experience that incorporates online, mobile and in-store sales, after 2011's survey highlighted many of the same issues. He said: "Going forward, it is important for suppliers and agencies to work closer together and form tighter partnerships and provide a tailor-made solution to help retailers achieve their multichannel vision."

Having a robust, fast and reliable online hosting solution in place is likely to be crucial to the success of ecommerce firms in the UK, with the busiest shopping days of the year fast approaching. IMRG recently predicted this will be either December 3rd or December 10th, depending on the company. However, parts of the world that have already experienced their traditional peaks for online shopping have reported record sales. It was noted by IBM Benchmark that the US' Cyber Monday event, which took place earlier this week, saw sales increase by 30.3 per cent from 2011.

More Stories By Dominic Monkhouse

Dominic Monkhouse joined PEER 1 Hosting as managing director of the company's new UK operations in January, 2009, bringing more than 14 years of IT industry experience to the team. He is the key executive responsible for building and growing PEER 1 Hosting's expansion into Europe. In his role as managing director, Dominic is responsible for sales, marketing and service delivery across PEER 1 Hosting's UK business and ensuring overall customer satisfaction. His role is integral to the company's continued commitment to customer service.

Before joining PEER 1 Hosting, Dominic served as managing director of IT Lab, where he was able to quickly transform the company into the fastest growing IT service provider in the UK SME market. Prior to IT Lab, he was managing director of Rackspace, which grew from a staff of four to 150 under his guidance.

Dominic has a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Food Marketing from Newcastle University and a MBA from Sheffield Business School in the UK. He frequently participates in public speaking events on the topic of creating great places to work and achieving continuous client satisfaction. He also is involved as a judge of the Sunday Times Customer Experience Awards.

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