The customer experience challenge for Multi channel retail
by Damian Rees, Founder & UX Director

The customer experience challenge for Multi channel retail

Pier 1 no longer multi channel

Offering consistently great customer experience across all channels as a retailer is at the top of retailer’s to do list at the moment. With such a large growth in the industry to date with sales exceeding £4bn a month for the first time, up 80% on last year according to Brand republic and with the industry expecting to triple in the next 5 years according to Verdict (UK e-retail report 2007 ) its no wonder that retailers are working long and hard at improving their online customer experience. UK retailers such as House of Fraser  and Karen Millen  have recently worked hard to add an e-commerce aspect to their online channel (we’ll be reviewing these soon).

Interestingly, the US retailer Pier 1 has instead just shut down its e-commerce and catalogue channels  in order to focus purely on their in-store customer experience. A message on their website states:

‘You’ve probably visited other websites that seem to have a lot but end up having much that’s “not available.” That’s bad. And that’s something we don’t want our customers to experience; therefore, starting September 1, 2007, will no longer offer online purchasing. ‘

According to internetretailer.comPier 1 is ‘the second major chain retailer to exit e-commerce in recent years. TJX Companies Inc. discontinued retail sales at its sole e-commerce site for its T. J. Maxx and HomeGoods brands in October 2005.’

There are clear advantages for focusing on just a single channel as it allows the company some purity to focus on providing an excellent customer experience in one channel rather than spreading their resources, attention and profits thinly across a number of channels. We saw this recently with the serenata flowers review. Are we are going to see more of retailers choosing their choice of channels more wisely? Or is the trend in multi channel retail going to continue to grow across all retail sectors?

UX Consultant Emma Peters

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