International sport chain Decathlon beat six other Singapore stores in achieving great customer experience and flexibility.

As online shoppers move along the path to purchase, they use a variety of digital and physical touchpoints. For example, 32% of consumers in Singapore always research online before purchasing offline, and 25% of them always research offline before purchasing online.

This complexity creates challenges for retailers as they implement new strategies and tactics to meet the ever-changing expectations of omnichannel customers. How have retailers in Singapore risen to the challenge?

Forrester evaluated the omnichannel retail and digital store capabilities of six retailers in Singapore: Charles & Keith, Decathlon, Harvey Norman, Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo, and Watsons. These retailers were chosen because they operate both online and offline stores and provide “buy online, pick up in store” services.

Decathlon was the only retailer to perform well in both assessments. Harvey Norman and Uniqlo had the second highest scores after Decathlon in the omnichannel retail and digital store capabilities assessments respectively.

Some of the interesting findings of Forrester research’s two retail benchmarks are as follows:

  • Retailers differentiate themselves most from the competition with high performance in three omnichannel capabilities: fast, convenient in-store pickup; consistent loyalty programs and promotions; and visibility into enterprise inventory.
  • Decathlon and Harvey Norman were the top-performing retailers. Decathlon has equipped its stores with automated inventory management tools like RFID tags and a dedicated service counter to deliver efficient in-store pickup. Harvey Norman allows customers to filter and see what is in stock and in which store and follows up with fast, streamlined in-store pickup.
  • Retailers should eliminate the separation between channels to realize omnichannel retail. To become a fully omnichannel retailer, adopt in-store fulfillment to improve speed and cut costs; implement “buy anywhere, return anywhere” to upgrade shopping experiences; and make pre- and post-purchase experiences consistent.

In the area of digital store capabilities, four metrics were evaluated: Associate digital tools, customer digital tools, digital engagement screens, and location engagement. Here are the findings:

  • Singapore retailers’ digital store capabilities are still nascent. Digital engagement screens and location engagement, in particular, have a long way to go. The digital signage adopted by retailers mainly contains static ads which lack interactivity or contextual content for customers. Similarly, location-based customer engagement is also still far from common among Singaporean retailers.
  • Decathlon and Uniqlo were the top-performing retailers. Decathlon’s key strengths are its cross-store inventory visibility for associates and customers and its option for customers to self-checkout with in-aisle kiosks. Uniqlo differentiates itself with location-based technology to engage customers in-store.
  • Retailers have yet to create real-time, contextual, and interactive experiences. To enhance shopping experiences, retailers need to provide value-added services that go beyond improving shopping efficiency, such as rich product content access and clienteling, to better serve customers. In-store digital technologies that focus on encouraging customer engagement are the key to differentiation.

The insights from there reports pertain to the technology and user trends in Singapore, and maybe different for online shoppers elsewhere. Nevertheless, techniques and principles for smarter retail are evolving, and DigiconAsia will continue to tap regional and international viewpoints for sharing with our valued readers. Stay tuned!