NEW YORK: Hard-pressed retailers need to invest across the board if they are to deliver the "seamless retail" experiences that most consumers now expect, according to new research.

Consulting firm Accenture surveyed 750 US consumers and undertook a separate analysis of how US retailers operate across multiple sales channels, and concluded that if retailers wanted to win consumer loyalty and achieve growth across all channels, they would have to improve both their mobile commerce offerings and the in-store shopping experience.

The research showed that only 42% of shoppers found it easy to complete a purchase using a mobile device. And 39% said the physical store was the area of the shopping experience most in need of an upgrade.

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Tying the two together, more than one third (39%) of consumers said that they would take advantage of the opportunity to earn loyalty points and save money on their purchases through in-store mobile phone offers, while almost half (45%) would like to receive real-time promotions sent to their phones or tablet.

But only 28% of retailers can currently offer such services. And the gap between what consumers want and what retailers can deliver was further highlighted in the area of the shopping experience second most in need of improvement.

Almost one third (32%) of shoppers wanted to be able to use all three sales channels – physical store, online and mobile – in an integrated way. However, tablet and mobile phone users were able to start shopping on their devices and complete the cycle in-store with only 22% and 19% of retailers, respectively.

"Physical and digital commerce are converging at an incredible pace," said Dave Richards, global managing director of Accenture's Retail practice.

"All sales channels must be equally desirable to the consumer, so that the path to purchase is not chosen based on satisfaction in one channel over another, but simply on what is most convenient at that time."

He advised retailers to rethink their investment approach and to build capabilities like digital marketing and analytics that will "enable them to tap into the core strengths of the physical store and seamlessly integrate with the rest of their digital offerings"

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff