Setting KPIs for Omnichannel Retailers


When it comes to developing a multi-channel Customer Experience framework, the general direction of travel in recent thinking has been to ditch Channel KPIs in favour of Customer-centric KPIs; everyone will be familiar after all with briefs that start with the mantra ‘think Customer first, Channel second’.

We created a survey which forced respondents to make a choice between two corresponding Retail and Digital KPIs. Of course we knew this was a contentious exercise to some extent, as often both KPIs would be equally important to an Omnichannel Retailer. However by forcing respondents to make a choice, we were able to ultimately ascertain what really matters to an Omnichannel business, and also identify the Retail outlier KPIs that could teach Digital a thing or two about Customer needs and expectations.

To provide some creative engagement around the task, we also devised a football match analogy for a shoot-out between Home (Retail) and Away (Digital) KPIs teams. We carried this over into a month-long competition held on Linkedin.


Insights from a selection of the matches

  • Self-Service vs Speed to Checkout

    This was definitely a game of two halves. Dwell time drives dividends instore, where customers like to browse and ‘be sold to’. However website behavior tends to be more focused, with customers moving swiftly between sites using search to find what they want. Our survey results were completely split by these KPIs.

    But wait, the ref has asked to see a replay.

    Referee: ‘I’m not entirely happy with this goal, given that 83% of Omnichannel sales come from instore purchases vs online. What’s more, 70% of businesses surveyed in a recent report claimed that customers will wait 5 minutes or less before being served, before abandoning their purchase and leaving the store. I’ll let this one go just this one time – however retailers must do more to minimise queue fatigue instore’.

  • Dwell Time vs Click Through Rate

    Back of the net for Speed to Checkout according to our Survey results, with the Away team recording a comfortable win.

    Interestingly, some marketers are proposing that Dwell Time could be a more important metric in the long term:

    • Retailers increasingly investing in instore experience, and platforms such as Booking Bug are booming

    • Click and Collect takes advantage of both KPIs

    • Attribution of Click Through Rates as a digital KPI being challenged, as well as influence of click bait algorithms

    Referee: ‘I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Dwell Time. With Retailers focusing on short-term conversions at the expense of developing longer term relationships with their Customers, could Dwell Time become the more meaningful conversion KPI in future? I’m awarding a penalty’.

  • Contactless vs One Tap Payment

    Comfortable win for the Away team.

    We would view patronage of the Away KPI as being equally supportive of the Home KPI.

    ‘Frictionless payment’ is therefore a genuine Omnichannel KPI. However improvements can still be made to this experience.

  • Average Basket Size vs Customer Lifetime Value

    Here our survey results were neck and neck for each KPI, despite Customer Lifetime Value enjoying more media airtime.

    Hang on, looks like our Ref is stepping in again.

    Referee: ‘In the short term, it is wise that average basket size is an important KPI to measure instore, whilst it is difficult to identify and track customers compared to digital. However innovations in privacy and consent management, instore technology that can subsequently recognise customers, and the appeal of radically reduced marketing costs afforded by personalised marketing, will lead to an increase in importance for Customer Lifetime Value. I’m therefore giving this game to the Away team’.

  • Returns vs Cancellations

    Whilst Cancellations were chosen in our Survey, we would argue that Returns mustn’t be ignored, as this represents a potentially poorer customer experience, so getting this right is important.

    But as Returns become smoother, and retailers continue to remove contradictory Ts & Cs in each channel (eg. Proliferation of credit notes in-store, etc), and POS technology becomes more innovative, instore Cancellations may also become a reality which testifies to their ongoing importance as a KPI.



We think the most profound insight from our duelling Home vs Away match fixtures, is that taking a purely Customer-centric view of KPIs underestimates the effect that different channels have on Customer behaviours. Whilst there are some KPIs which appear to be converging – self-service and speedy check-out; frictionless payments; footfall and traffic; sales per square foot and conversion, etc – other KPIs are more tricky and sometimes diverge across channels.

We would support Personalisation, and the Customer Lifetime Value KPI that can measure this, as a growing trend within Customer Experience design. However the huge revenue gains that can be made by successfully targeting and converting promiscuous Customers who are not brand-loyal, mustn’t be ignored. Likewise mass promotions are still stubbornly driving huge success for Retailers, at the expense of personalised promotions. However, with increases in Customer recognition and tracking being made not only during online click stream sessions, but instore too, this may change. Even in this regard though, rising concerns amongst Customers about privacy and the relentless algorithm-driven promotions that fill their screen time, is a factor that must be sensitively and responsibly navigated by Retailers.