The biggest retail hoax ever

omnichannelretailCan someone, anyone, provide just one example of the tangible dollar benefits of omnichannel?

On 28 October last year I wrote an article in these columns. It was entitled “Why omnichannel will die” . I said that it would be a slow and gruesome death and several people commented on the article – some for and some against.

More recently, a much respected colleague of mine, Graham Lack, had an article published on 1 August  – “The real power of omnichannel retailing”.

One of us is horribly wrong. It is either Graham or it is me. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile we see that beleaguered surfwear retailer Billabong is turning to omnichannel retail (again) in a bid to revive its fortune.

They say they remain committed to rolling out their omni platform despite taking an $11.7 million hit after dropping their solution provider.   They decided to cut their losses and dump their ‘new’ ecommerce platform provider, NetSuite, following “technical implementation issues”.

Possibly the most ludicrous notion ever conceived.

Firstly why would any company under pressure, dump its provider and write off $11.7 mill and yet continue down an unproven path in search of a goose to lay a golden egg?

And secondly why dump the provider for technical implementation issues?

All of us know that implementation issues are never one sided. The easiest cop out is to name and blame your provider and give them the flick.   Inevitably the blame is shared and perhaps it is the IT executive at Billabong who was responsible for tying up the deal, who should be dumped.

Irrespective, grasping at straws when you are in ship creek, is not the smartest way to go.

How about rather doing something old fashioned like finding out what the real problems are and then fixing them!

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at or 0414 631 702



  1. Cameron Wall posted on August 4, 2017

    It's pretty simple equation really...90% of people research and discover things online and 90% or retail transactions happen offline. Looping that gap is the challenge, and it's across all the different channels that join them.

    • Stuart Bennie posted on August 4, 2017

      Never looked at it that way but I think it is a great perspective. Thanks Cameron.

  2. Abhishek Dadoo posted on August 4, 2017

    Making it happen is hard, very hard. An execution failure by Billabong is not an opportunity to chastise the entire customer journey (from awareness to sale to customer service) is fools errand.

    • Stuart Bennie posted on August 4, 2017

      Dear Abhishek, I hear what you say. I find it quite incredible though, that not one person (so far) has even attempted to justify that omni-channel has any payback whatsoever. Regards, Stuart

  3. Dennis posted on August 4, 2017

    Stuart. I too have written on the concept quite a bit. My position is that eCommerce is a VERY different business, and one that can easily be a massive money drain and requires VERY different skills. Approach with caution. HOWEVER: I think you may be ignoring the problem of 'attribution'. It is currently difficult/almost impossible to 'attrribute' the effective cause of the sale. Imagine the person seeing an ad on breakfast TV, seeing a billboard on the way to work, reading a webiste at work, comparing the online offer and then walking into the store to buy. What caused the sale? Even though it is technically difficult to attribute /and quantify the impact that your website had on the eventual sale, common sense tells you that people do use the net to search (at least) and increasingly to buy. Just because you can't pinpoint the impact, does not mean you should ingore it. Just because it promises that you may reach customers you never reached before, does not mean you should embrace it. It really depends on the business model, the resources and capabilities of the organisation as to whether this possibly makes sense as a strategy. Billabong has not asked me, so I don't know anything about their business, so I can't tell if it makes sense for them. On the face of it, an organisation that size should be able to acquire the expertise/resources thy need to make it work - if it is the right strategy. Just because they failed in the first execution, does not mean the strategy is flawed.

    • Stuart Bennie posted on August 4, 2017

      Very well put Dennis. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Rebecka Finn posted on August 8, 2017

    According to e-market 82% of customers want to check availability of a product prior to visiting a store. That says a lot... we have made it affordable and easy to make happen with stockinstore - a solution for real omni channel retailers!

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