NEW YORK: Most retailers have bought into the idea of an omnichannel strategy, but few have succeeded in making this strategy a reality, a new report has indicated.

Insights provider eMarketer cited statistics from Retail Systems Research showing that 84% of retailers worldwide thought creating a consistent customer experience across channels was very important, while the remaining 16% described it as somewhat important.

But figures from the same survey, quoted in The State of Omnichannel Retail: Retailers Playing Catch-Up with Consumers, demonstrated just how far the sector has yet to go.

When considering 13 different aspects of an omnichannel strategy, from consistent consumer experience across all channels to call centres, less than 20% of respondents reported that they had been able to achieve full synchronisation of their activity.

eMarketer also referred to a survey by IBM Tealeaf and Econsultancy, which found retailers failing to successfully connect the online and offline experiences. While 63% of retailers were providing online content about offline stores, far fewer were travelling in the other direction and linking mobile with the in-store experience. Just over a quarter said they were using QR codes and mobile coupons.

There were two main reasons, eMarketer suggested, why retailers had not moved more quickly to adopt omnichannel strategies. One was a simple lack of urgency as in-store sales continued to account for the bulk of overall retail sales. The other was the complexity of the work involved in restructuring operations to offer a successful omnichannel experience.

One US retailer that is committed to an omnichannel approach is Macy's which has announced a $170m investment in a direct-to-consumer fulfilment centre near Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"Customers today are shopping whenever, however and wherever they prefer, via stores, desktops and mobile devices, and we continue to invest to meet the customer demand," said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy's, in comments reported by Retailing Today.

Lundgren also noted that in addition to three existing fulfilment centres, the company had rolled out fulfilment capability to 500 stores nationwide.

Data sourced from eMarketer Retailing Today; additional content by Warc staff