Key takeaways

  • Omnichannel approach allows consumers to purchase via their choice of sales settings.
  • Australia, UK and US lead omnichannel penetration, says report.
  • Consumer electronics is the leading category for retailers in this space.

Australia is one of the world’s e-commerce “powerhouses” and is in the top three nations for omnichannel retailing, says a recent report by PwC’s Strategy&.

The 2015 Global Omnichannel Retail Index also found that in two categories – consumer electronics and personal care and beauty – Australia leads the globe.

The omnichannel approach to retail employs all channels, both digital and physical, to guide a consumer through their purchasing journey: from researching products, to transaction, through to delivery. By connecting the dots between physical stores and online presence, offering interaction across a variety of devices and mediums, it is seen as the most successful strategy for retail success because it responds to the needs of the ‘always on’ customer, allowing for the creation of a deeper relationship as well as the ability to target individual consumer needs.

The report showed that:

Australia is in the top three
for omnichannel worldwide

With a score of 48 (on a scale of 100), Australia falls narrowly behind the UK and the US in the omnichannel index. These leading countries have high rates of mobile penetration, retailers in those nations have invested in developing their omnichannel capabilities, and consumers have shown a willingness to embrace multiple channel retailing.

We excel
in consumer electronics…

With a score of 66, Australia’s omnichannel index for consumer electronics and appliances is the highest of all categories and nations. Electronics is a segment that has traditionally remained at the fore largely because of strong competition from e-tailers such as Amazon and eBay, whose formidable online presence in this sector forced bricks-and-mortar stores to up the ante on their e-commerce capabilities, which naturally created the foundation to enhance their omnichannel retail offering, too.

…and we lead
in most other retail categories, too

Beauty and personal care, eyewear, media products and toys were four other categories in which Australia also scored consistently high marks. Denmark makes a surprise appearance on the index, bucking the trend of many of its European neighbours by showing strong omnichannel penetration.

Grocery retailers
are lagging

The least mature of all the nine retail segments is groceries. Omnichannel strategies are less successful in this area presumably because consumers prefer to see and handle food products as they buy them; also perishable items also pose a greater challenge for distribution.

The report assessed 19 countries and regions and nine retail segments. It drew up an index against four metrics:

  • Consumer behavior: the degree to which customers already fulfil purchases using multiple channels,
  • Degree of digitisation: the existing level of digitisation for sales channels,
  • Omnichannel potential: the annual growth rate of internet and mobile retailing, and
  • Infrastructure: penetration of devices and services, such as mobile apps, smartphones and tablets.

Although the latest findings mark a successful outcome for Australian retailers that have adopted an omnichannel approach, this is by no means the time to slow down.

E-tailers may have proved stiff competition for the consumer electronics segment, however they are fast increasing the heat on other areas too. In response to successful moves into digital by many bricks-and-mortar retailers, online outlets are levelling the field by establishing physical stores themselves. For example, having already launched pick-up points earlier in the year, Amazon opened its first physical book store this month, acknowledging the “benefit of a physical browsing experience”. This means greater competition for omnichannel retailers.

The line between online and offline is growing increasingly blurred for the consumer and as mobile adoption increases, this will only raise the imperative for retailers to bridge that gap.  Does your business have a clear vision for its omnichannel strategy?


Tan Allaway

Tan Allaway is a former editor of PwC’s Digital Pulse.

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