A new report suggests that multichannel retailers need to integrate their offline and online inventory more closely to avoid losing sales as customers switch between channels.

According to the Multichannel Retail Report from GSI Commerce, if customers can’t find an item instore and decide to look for it online, 69% would compare prices across other websites, meaning that risk losing potential sales to rivals.

The lesson for retailers?

40% did say they would look at the website of the retailer they were trying to shop at, 53% would try a price comparison site, and 41% would type the product name into a search engine. 

Typical consumer responses to finding items out-of-stock in-store:

Multichannel retailers could avoid this problem by making it easy for customers to order online direct from the store. 81% of those surveyed said they would be likely to take this option if it was offered to them.

This reduces the risk of losing potential sales to online competitors, and also has the added effect of extending the shelf space of the store by making the online inventory easily accessible.

While if you ask an assistant, they will often offer to order online for you at stores like Marks & Spencer and Next, there are few I can think of that really promote this to customers by providing booths (or something like it) for customers to walk up to and order from.

The only example I can think of at the moment is Tesco, whose Direct Desks are provided in its larger stores, and allow customers to order goods for collection at home or in store.

Other stats from the survey:

When consumers were asked what would deter them from making a repeat purchase online,  76% of consumers cited an expensive or lengthy online returns or refund procedure, 68% said goods not being delivered on time, and 61% unhelpful online assistance.

56% of customers said they would purchase a last minute gift online if they could collect in the same day from a high street store.