Customers Want Omnichannel Retail but Don’t Trust It – Here’s What You Can Do to Change That


Omnichannel retail solutions are enhancing the shopping experience at an alarmingly fast pace, but consumer trust in brands and retailers isn’t growing at the quite the same rate.  While shoppers love being catered to, they don’t exactly want to give up the goods (or in this case, data) that make it easier for companies to do just that. Read on for more about what today’s shopper wants from an omnichannel retailer, what they definitely don’t want and how you can bridge the gap between the two (while building their trust).

Customers want a more seamless and intuitive omnichannel shopping experience. A survey from Periscope™, By McKinsey reveals that while 83% of US respondents still shop in-store (compared to 59% who primarily shop online), nearly half (49%) of them say they would like the ability “to select items online and be directed to them in the store.”

This bodes well for the scores of brands and retailers who are putting in an extensive amount of time and effort to implement omnichannel solutions. This can be anything as simple as offering a “pick up in store” option when shopping online to using augmented reality in fitting rooms so that items left unpurchased are saved to a customer’s mobile for later.

What all of this proves is that customers most definitely want to benefit from omnichannel retailing and companies are willing to working hard to give it to them however…

…It would seem that customers want the frills of omnichannel solutions without actually giving up the personal data necessary to make them happen. As per the same survey, “62% of US respondents currently do not want their online and offline information to be connected to optimize the shopping experience.”

In some cases, a major turn-off for customers seems to be the “over-personalization” of the shopping experience. For example, The Guardian reports that major department retailer, Saks, utilizes facial-recognition technology – a tactic some high-end retailers and hotels are using to help identify VIPs for preferred treatment. Sounds like a great idea, right? Wrong. A survey of 1,018 US shoppers by RichRelevance revealed that 67% of the surveyed consumers “think it’s creepy when retailers use facial recognition technology to identify prior shopping habits and relay this information to a salesperson.”

As per Channie Mize, General Manager for Retail at Periscope, “Retailers that can build the bridge between in-store and online, as well as bridge the trust gap, are those that will flourish in the future. It will allow them to deliver experiences that will get customers flocking to their doors and online store.”

One major cause of distrust amongst customers, especially on the omnichannel front, is the threat of a security breach – especially when it means their own personal data is at risk. In fact, according to a consumer study from the Ponemon Institute, data breaches are one of the top 3 incidents that can potentially tarnish your brand reputation, alongside poor customer service and environmental disasters. While you can’t exactly control the environment, you can definitely ensure that your customers’ data is secure and that you are providing them with the best service possible by:

  • Being aware of the risks (don’t think of any technology as a “cure-all”) and have a plan of action should anything go wrong
  • Making sure you have a Data Breach Response Plan in place. Once you do, treat it like a fire drill, be sure to practice it!
  • Making sure all departments and staff are involved with data breach prevention and that everyone is on the same page
  • Securing help outside of your organization. Seek legal counsel (with breach experience) as well as a a company who can help by promptly notifying customers and providing them with identity theft protection services
  • Keeping in mind that tech is always changing and unfortunately, so are hackers’ efforts! Make sure your plan is regularly updated to account for any possible changes
  • Last but not least, remembering that communication is always key. Let your customers know from the get-go how important keeping their data is secure is to you. Let them know that you are taking the necessary steps to protect their financial and personally identifiable information as well. Should a breach occur, notify them immediately with a clear explanation of what happened and provide additional support whether it’s with an FAQ page or a 1-800 number for them to call.

Keeping these steps in mind will go a long way towards maintaining customer trust and helping them feel secure that shopping with you – be it on or offline – is not only intuitive, fun and convenient but secure as well!