Kurt Salmon research reveals John Lewis and House of Fraser are also ahead of the average but there’s still plenty of room for improvement

12 March 2014

Topshop is the best omni-channel fashion retailer according to results of a survey* by Kurt Salmon to find out how well businesses are performing  across multiple channels. 

Topshop, John  Lewis and Marks & Spencer have the top mobile offer;  House of Fraser is the best executioner of cross channel/order fulfilment and also heads the social leaderboard. Topshop and Harvey Nichols are the best “in store” operators. Not surprisingly, ASOS is the leading exponent in online.

While these retailers are significantly ahead of the average, there is still plenty of opportunity to move from good to great, according to Siobhan Gehin, Kurt Salmon Partner, as not one retailer demonstrated best practice across all customer touch points. In particular, when it comes to order fulfilment and operating across multiple channels, execution is poor. 

“Retailers just do not have the ‘glue’ they need to link all the channels together, so they are disappointing customers and losing sales,” explains Gehin.

Retailers are still not confident in their stock file accuracies, which is leading to significant lost business, with just five out of the 25 retailers surveyed having a store stock checker and only one offering reserve & collect (the facility to reserve a product without paying for immediate same day or next day collection – à la Argos - as opposed to click & collect where the order is pre-paid and often ordered in specifically for that customer).  Fashion retailers have been quick to embrace click & collect but the offer is not consistent, with eight of the fashion retailers surveyed offering a three day click & collect facility.

“Retailers who do mobile well recognise that the customer has her mobile phone in her pocket 24/7,” adds Gehin, “yet, for instance, one retailer with more than 20m likes on Facebook does not even have an enhanced mobile site which is ‘tragic’.

Fashion retailers are also slow to take advantage of geolocating.

“They should be taking note of what Starbucks is doing, such as offering customers a real benefit to sign up to its app and the associated geolocation facilities, with convenient and fast payment via mobile phone as well as built-in loyalty offers.”

Additionally, Kurt Salmon believes  there’s work to be done on harmonising payment and returns policies, which differ across channels. For instance, not all retailers allow customers to use a refund or a gift card on line.

Topshop stood out from the competition for its highly engaging content online, a clean and highly functional mobile site with social well integrated. And its in-store experience matches that of a more up-market retailer, with a strong service proposition, including personal shopping facilities.

The department stores figured strongly in the survey, with John Lewis winning third place overall and House of Fraser topping the polls on cross-channel and on social – reflecting in both cases a strong focus on delivering customer benefits through  omni-channel, click & collect and mobile. The grocers, on the other hand (F&F, George and Tu) were below average on most dimensions, with the in-store experience being their biggest challenge, followed closely by mobile.

“There are some relatively simple and quick wins there for the grocers – though not necessarily easy to execute, given their scale and the overwhelming focus of their business model on food and grocery,” adds Géhin.

According to Kurt Salmon, if fashion retailers want to be more than average, they need to include the following elements in their offer:

Online: virtual fitting rooms/outfit builders, wish lists, customer reviews, help via instant messaging and ability to pay using gift cards

In store: wifi, mobile ePos, staff equipped with tablets or terminals so that they can see what the customer sees, personal shopping service.

Mobile: filter options when browsing, customer reviews, total spend visible and a GPS store locator – with geolocation the next big opportunity

Social: A strong engagement with customers, with frequent  updates, blogs and inspiration.

Cross channel/fulfillment: Free home delivery (or a threshold to activate this), next day click and collect, reserve and collect from store option, same day delivery and specified delivery slots.

Kurt Salmon’s offices in France and Germany are currently conducting similar research to develop a European view of how fashion retailers are performing and this will be published in the coming weeks.

*Kurt Salmon surveyed 25 UK fashion retailers, including multiples, department stores, pure plays and grocers  and analysed their customer service offer against  five channels to market: store, web, mobile, cross channel and social. Research carried out from January to March 2014.