Top 10 Cross-Channel Retail Trends

Retailers continue to aggressively integrate e-commerce into their cross-channel operations, as it represents a tremendous opportunity for growth.

This and other findings are found in the 2007 RIS/AMR Research Cross-Channel Tech Trends Study, a first of its kind benchmark study based on a survey of more than 130 North American retail respondents across a wide range of segments, company sizes and business models.

The 10 major takeaways from the study are:

1. Fast Growth Continues for Online Channel: The survey projects a compound annual growth rate of more than 19 percent over the 3-year period of 2006 to 2008.

2. Focus Shifts to Online Advertising: Spending for traditional advertising such as print and television is shrinking dramatically from 70 percent in 2006 to 57 percent in 2007.

3. Consumer Shopping Hits Critical Mass: Online performance across segments appears to have no ceiling, with respondents reporting the average market basket for Web transactions between $200 and $299, and the average quantity of items per transaction between three and four.

4. Fast Growth Brings Growing Pains: With increased sales, the number of merchandise returned grows. In fact, according to the survey, the average return rate for online orders is between 3 percent and 4 percent. Retailers are also experiencing fraudulent online transactions as part of their growing pains.

5. Dedicated Cross-Channel Teams Are Emerging: The burgeoning online channel is finally getting the attention it warrants with 47 percent of respondents elevating a dedicated business leader to the role of vice president of e-commerce or cross-channel to run the operation. Also, the resources that the vice presidents of e-commerce or cross-channel have at their disposal are growing.

6. Outsourcing a Strategic Weapon in Cross-Channel Arsenal: While internal teams are expanding, retailers still outsource some of their core online business processes.

7. Web to Store Customer Convenience Drives Sales: An increasing number of retailers indicate they provide capabilities for consumers to order merchandise online and pick up in store. Also, the process for consumers to actually pick up products must be convenient and easy.

8. Store to Web Customer Convenience Drives Sales: The survey shows that 69 percent of retailers will replace their current e-commerce platform -- for order capture, catalog and content management, pricing and promotion management, and order inquiry by the end of 2008.

9. Massive E-Commerce Refresh Underway: In the late 1990s through mid-2002, retailers invested in first-generation e-commerce applications to meet growing consumer demand. The survey shows that 69 percent of retailers will replace their current e-commerce platform by the end of 2008.

10. Pace of Technology Change Is Fast and Furious: What was classified as progressive technology several years ago is now becoming the norm, such as site search, search engine optimization and interactive and 360-degree imaging.

More info about these 10 findings and others will be found in the complete report mailed with the September issue of RIS and then posted to The study was written by Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail strategies, and Fenella Sirkisoon, research director, both of whom are with AMR Research.