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multichannel retail

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Multichannel retail is an approach in which retailers offer consumers multiple options for how and where they make purchases. Channels include bricks and mortar locations, websites, telephone and email orders and catalog sales as well as hybrid models like click and collect. The purpose is to provide more options for consumers and, as a result, drive profits.

A Google research study reported that 51 percent of consumers surveyed said they had conducted research online before visiting a physical retail location to make their purchase. Thirty-two percent of the respondents said they had visited brick-and-mortar locations as part of the research process and then gone online to make the purchase. This combined approach to shopping is sometimes referred to as clicks and mortar.

Because many consumers use several channels throughout what is sometimes called the purchase journey, it's important for businesses to coordinate IT systems and data related to customers so that, for example, they aren't repeatedly served ads for products they've already purchased or simply bombarded with the same targeted advertising through multiple channels. It's also crucial that consumer data is consistent and current across all the business' systems.

Ideally, customer experience should be consistent and seamless across channels. Other challenges to multichannel retail include managing orders and inventory across various systems.

This was last updated in June 2017

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