New research shows that retailers can no longer afford to silo their online and offline stores as digital consumers expect a seamless integration across all retail channels, including social and mobile. 

Almost two-thirds of digital shoppers (60%) surveyed by Capgemini said they expect the convergence of retail channels to be the norm by 2014.

This is clearly not the case at present, as half of shoppers said that most retailers currently are not consistent in the way they present themselves across channels.

The Digital Shopper Relevancy report, which surveyed 16,000 digital shoppers across 16 markets, found that 73% of respondents expect online prices to be lower than those in physical stores.

This suggests that retailers are failing to create an efficient multichannel approach, something that is increasingly important in a digital world.

Google’s head of retail Rick Jones told us in a recent interview that it is vital for businesses to offer consistency across all channels.

Consumers are increasingly savvy about retail offers and that means you have no choice but to be transparent and make it consistent and seamless, and also you have to avoid the horrible customer experience of seeing a price on website, then you go into a store and there’s a different price.

Capgemini’s report also underlines how important it is for brick-and-mortar stores to use digital channels to engage customers, as 56% of respondents claimed that are likely to spend more money at a physical store if they had used digital channels to research the product prior to purchase. 

Also, more than half of respondents in both emerging and mature markets said they expect physical stores for increasing numbers of categories will simply become showrooms to select and order products by 2020.

House of Fraser e-commerce director Andy Harding laid out a similar vision at Econsultancy’s recent Future of Digital Marketing event.

Digitising the in-store experience is key. Multichannel customers are three to four times more valuable than single channel customer each year.

The company is currently trialling ‘.com’ stores in Aberdeen and Liverpool where consumers can browse products then order them online.

The initiative was inspired by the success of its online buy and collect service which now accounts for 35% of online orders.

But despite House of Fraser’s success, fewer than half of the UK’s top 50 retailers currently offer a click and collect service.

To give a more in-depth view of the benefits of this service, we recently blogged 10 best practice tips for reserve and collect.