This retail industry ranking just embarrassed Canada’s top merchants

Chasm Digital suggests firms here aren’t doing enough to optimize for the omni-channel

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Canadian consumers are some of the most digitally savvy in the world. Unfortunately, recent research suggests our retailers aren’t quite as progressive.
Canadian retailers are lagging behind their U.S. counterparts when it comes to digital channels, including mobile, social and web. And they’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up, according to a new study from Chasm Digital, which examines the maturity of 21 major Canadian retailers.
Of the retailers surveyed, those in the bottom 10 were all Canadian, while the top 11 were mainly Canadian branches of U.S. retailers. (Amazon is ranked No. 1, followed by Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears and Lululemon.)
One can conclude from these results that U.S. retailers are doing a much better job of integrating digital channels into an overall omni-channel strategy. One can also conclude that Canadian retailers are vulnerable to competition from south of the border, as well as pure ecommerce players.
One key element of the omni-channel, for example, is making inventory levels available online. But Chasm found that inventory levels are actually absent from most retail web sites. And only 38 per cent of those surveyed allow online purchase and in-store pickup.
So what can Canadian retailers learn from the likes of Amazon, Best Buy and Home Depot?
These retailers are doing a good job of integrating in-store and online operations, optimizing their offerings across digital channels. Customers have access to product ratings and reviews; they can also check inventory online, return online purchases in-store and even pick up online purchases at the nearest store location.
Chasm found that while some retailers were exceling in one or a few areas, most seemed “oblivious” to how digital technologies are changing the retail landscape.
Offering a mobile-friendly site and at least one mobile app should be table stakes these days, but only half of major Canadian retailers are doing this.
Considering that big-name U.S. brands have recently entered – or plan to enter – the Canadian market (from Target to Nordstrom), Canadian retailers need to wake up and smell the coffee.
They need to make use of all digital channels, not just one or two – and integrate those channels into a seamless experience for their customers.
Consider this: Chasm found that grocery and pharmacy retailers are “living in the dark ages” when it comes to technology. But Amazon – yep, the No. 1 ranked retailer in digital channels – is getting into the grocery business in a big way. You don’t need a retail analyst to tell you how that’s going to play out.
The report did find, however, that Canadian retailers are venturing into mobile commerce by offering ecommerce on their mobile site or app. And they’re building tablet apps.
But despite the growth of mobile and social (where Canadian consumers spend a lot of their time), Canadian retailers are still mainly focused on the web. Mobile and social, however, require separate strategies.
If this report is any indication, Canadian retailers have a long way to go to tie together these disparate strategies into an overall omni-channel roadmap. This includes building the infrastructure and developing the skill sets to bring together mobile, social and web.
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