UK retailers are failing to provide personalised offers to customers online and are ignoring their own data and insights into shopper demographics and behaviour.
In a study analysing how 170 retailers interacted with customers on their UK websites, KPMG found that the majority are failing to even maintain basic contact with shoppers registering with them.
After signing up with the retailer on their website, and opting in to receive offers and news, almost two thirds (62%) of shoppers participating in the study received nothing, other than an initial email to say their registration had been successful. Of those who were contacted, 96% received a generic email, despite 40% having provided personal details on registration.
“Customers want to be treated like individuals and are willing to surrender their data if retailers then deliver their side of the bargain: a personalised, more relevant, shopping experience. These results show that despite shoppers actively asking for contact, and volunteering information about their likes and dislikes, retailers then seemingly ignore them and fail to even initiate a basic conversation,” said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG. “This is such a missed sales opportunity and marks out how underdeveloped some retailers’ systems remain.”
KPMG’s study found that after shoppers revisited retailers’ websites and browsed, less than one in 10 then received a personalised email from the retailer referencing the goods they had looked at. The results indicate that most retailers are unaware of who is actually looking at what.
Shoppers who added items to their basket, but left the website without buying them, were treated to a more personalised experience. One third received an email from the retailer referring to the abandoned items and encouraging them to complete the purchase. However, less than one in 10 were offered a discount on the items in their basket to convert the sale.
“Retailers need to know who is at their checkout, what they want to buy and then do everything possible not to miss the opportunity. Technology enables them to get in touch and rescue a lost sale, by offering the customer a discount or free delivery to complete the transaction. At the moment retailers are ignoring the data at their finger tips, which may indicate that their systems are not up to scratch,” said David McCorquodale.
Retailers’ websites also lacked the details shoppers need to help inform their purchase. Only 44% of retailers offered customer reviews of products and two out of 10 websites didn’t offer multiple pictures of the products, a basic feature of a modern website.
KPMG’s study uncovered a wide disparity in retailers’ fulfilment and delivery capabilities: the last order dates offered by fashion retailers for guaranteed delivery by Christmas varied by a full week, from 16th to 23rd December.
“Retailers need to be able to turn on a sixpence and get goods to the customer with the minimum of delay, but these results show that some are really lagging behind in the fulfilment stakes. Most of these issues will be due to weaknesses in the supply chain. Having closer relationships with suppliers, specifically manufacturers and logistics operators, could prove to be the answer to this conundrum,” said David McCorquodale.
“As growth returns to the sector, it’s very clear that the majority of retailers need to plough profits back into their systems and invest in order to satisfy the demands of the modern consumer.”
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KPMG tested 170 retailers’ interaction with customers on their UK website over a four week period from the 25 November to 22 December 2013. The sample contained food/drink, supermarket, technology, toy store, fashion, homewares, jewellers, premium/luxury, multi-retailer/department store and specialist retailers.
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KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.
This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.