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The death of omnichannel?

Well, the word at least. Ecom directors hate it, or at least that was the consensus at Drapers’ Etail Fashion roundtable yesterday.

And they’d also send the word ‘multichannel’ to room 101, given the chance. Dislike of buzz-words aside, what they did agree on is that multichannel is now entering a period of refinement.

Guests from some of the highstreet’s biggest hitters were in attendance from Arcadia Group’s Topshop and Wallis, to department store House of Fraser, and ecom giant Shop Direct Group, tucked into breakfast at The Groucho Club in Soho to discuss the challenges facing their operations across multiple platforms at the event, held in association with online marketing, ecommerce and consulting specialist Summit Media.

On subjects such as social media the attendees agreed that it remains difficult to properly assess the impact of campaigns on in-store activity across platforms, and that as a result it can sometimes be difficult to put forward a strong case for investment internally. However, all agreed that it does drive engagement and therefore footfall in-store.

Despite the excessive discounting on the high street, there was a general consensus among attendees that while price remains important, convenience in regards to easier device agnostic payments, websites optimised for mobile phones, and initiatives such as stock visibility, delivery and returns is the key battle ground online.

Womenswear retailers East and Phase Eight have plans to launch mobile-optimised sites within the next two months, while French Connection will launch a stock availability option online in June, similar in function to that already used by Arcadia. 

One of the key topics of the morning was of course around delivery, and with prices going up across the board, it’s little wonder why. All were in agreement that customers want it, but emphasised that offering a suite of delivery options is best, and that retailers need to add value through a first-class service. In fact for a couple of the retailers at the table, they found that just offering free delivery via a code drove traffic, but then large numbers of those eligible either forgot or chose not to use it – as much as 85% at Brand Alley.

We’ll cover deliveries in greater depth in our May 11 issue, and for the full report on our roundtable discussion pick up a copy of our May 4 issue. The full Drapers & Summit Media Etail Fashion Report will be available as a free download from our website from May 10. 

However, what the morning didn’t throw up was a catchy replacement for either ‘omnichannel’ or ‘multichannel’, and the suggestion of “shopping” sadly doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. So it appears that the jury’s still out on that one – suggestions welcome!

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