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Retailers are beginning to improve how they serve customers across retailing channels, according to Rob Garf, VP and general manager of retail strategies at AMR Research Inc., a research and advisory firm. He attributes some of the gains to more effective management structures and multichannel technology. "Retailers in earnest now are focusing more on cross channel retailing as a business priority," he said.
Despite gains, the retail industry as a whole still has a long way to go in effectively serving consumers across shopping channels. The process requires merchants to maintain a single record of individual customer activity across each channel, in order to personalize the shopping experience based on a customer's interests, as recorded in all of a retailer's channels. "On a scale of one to five," Garf said, "I'd rate most retailers a two."
Yet, he pointed to two broad developments that are leading to more effective cross channel retailing. For one thing, recent research by AMR found that more retailers have a top executive overseeing eCommerce, a step that helps to ensure that the web serves as a central point for managing customer activity across multiple channels.
In a survey conducted last fall, AMR found that 42 percent of retailers had designated a top executive in charge of eCommerce. That executive, "Ensures that online operations are synchronized with brick and mortar and call center operations."
That 42 percent is up from a, "low double digit," percentage a couple of years ago, Garf noted. In addition, more retailers are also designating merchandise managers responsible for coordinating product presentations across multiple channels.
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