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The cost of keeping up with omnichannel – NRF Big Show 2015

US retail was in the mood to splurge at the Expo at NRF’s BIG show this week, you could sense the shopping lists coming out of CTO and CMO’s little black backpacks.

After years of talk about what strategies are needed to build a seamless shopping environment, retailers now have a clearer view of their priorities and are tooling up for what is becoming something of an arms race to build the infrastructures that can win over an increasingly fickle customer.

The cost of this endeavour is eye watering and wherever you look table stakes are getting higher as shopper expectations rise.

Let’s take the mobile app as an example. According to Forrester Research’s  principal analyst Julie Ask,  the first experimental mobile apps used to cost in the low double digit thousands, but now. she says, you’re looking at millions of dollars to develop something that has an element of stickyness to encourage return visits and retain a viable shelf life.

Today’s apps need to update and contextualise their interactions with shoppers and it’s the tech below the surface, the analytics and the web services which enable this, that cost the money. So it really pays to know why you are buying and building something before you start.

Some 65 -70% of True Religion’s entire web traffic comes from mobile but John Hazen VP, Omnichannel Commerce & Digital Innovation, says he still cannot see the value of an app for the business. “ Apps are hard, he said, “it has to have an intrinsic value and most of our  shoppers don’t need services like that.”

Many retailers, he maintained, would be better off  spending money on designing for mobile first and tweaking the mobile experience to better suit the needs of their customer. With an estimated $189 bn forecast to be invested by the industry in mobile initiatives in 2017 alone, one wonders just how expensive the learnings from this week’s shopping spree in the Expo Hall may prove to be.

 

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