This article summarizes a recent research report on the state of retail omnichannel experiences. At the most basic level, when a retailer provides an omnichannel experience for customers, it means the customer should expect the same inventory, pricing, and returns policy regardless if they make a purchase online or in a store. But not all retailers take this grand view of what omnichannel means to them. Instead, some retailers are taking a pick-and-choose approach to omnichannel and implementing certain strategies, including:
Consumer expectations are driving this need for omnichannel strategies: they want an always-on, seamless, consistent, and personalized shopping experience across all channels and touchpoints. The 2018 – 2019 Omnichannel Leadership Report published by NewStore evaluated current omnichannel capabilities and maturation of 150 apparel, lifestyle, and luxury brands. The focus of the research was to evaluate core offerings and omnichannel capabilities and how well they support the modern shopper’s customer journey. The report dove deep on Search & Discover, Personalization & Engagement, Path to Purchase & Fulfillment along with a quick look at the top five retailers implementing omnichannel tactics.
Companies that are highly successful at implementing these omnichannel strategies include: Diesel, Nike, Coach, Aritzia, and Kate Spade; all of which are various types of apparel retailers.
Based on research findings, Diesel led this group of top retailers by fully integrating their systems. Diesel is the only brand that can provide international inventory visibility; allowing shoppers to shop any location around the world.
Nike’s in-store experience now includes store associates armed with mobile devices so they can quickly look up product or customer information, along with shared cart capabilities and fulfillment from other stores.
Coach’s associates have iPads they can use to access customer information, place endless aisle orders, and process mobile payments.
Aritzia’s style advisors ranked high in the research due to their ability to pull up and leverage customer data instantaneously while helping them shop in-store or to follow up after they left.
Associates at Kate Spade also have mobile devices that they use to order out of stock items or look up inventory. Kate Spade also allows customers to take advantage of convenient fulfillment capabilities like click and collect.
The idea behind Search & Discover is the ability for a retailer to provide instant visibility of product and inventory information for both in-store and online purchases. This ability should also extend to store associates; however, the report shows that 55% of store associates can’t access their own store’s inventory and 61% of store associates can’t access inventory at another store location.
A solution to this problem is to provide customers a device in-store that displays wider product selections, remote inventory, as well as online-only offers. Currently, only a third of retailers offer these customer-facing mobile devices in their stores.
Another successful tactic retailers are employing is to show related products and product pairings to customers as they search online. Doing so provides more personalized, tailored content to customers, which directly impacts the bottom line, beefs up online shopping carts, and increases average order size, according to the report.
Engaging with customers provides a means for a retailer to create long-term relationships. Retailers who are winning big with personalization & engagement are leveraging mobile technology and customer profile data to create intimate interactions… leading to more relevant and engaging shopping experiences. The report found that 60% of brands provide store associates with mobile devices in-store to help with sales.
The report states there is a direct correlation between total sales, average order size, and repeat purchase. However, retailers need to find a way to provide this data to in-store associates during scheduled in-store visits and consultations. Retailers need to arm their associates with customer’s omnichannel order history and data to help increase customer loyalty. The report also states that 60% of sales generated through an appointment can generate up to a 20% increase in upselling; but only 9% of brands surveyed enable in-store appointment scheduling.
Unfortunately, less than a third of store associates have access to an omnichannel purchase history while they’re with the customer on the shop floor. An associates inability to access this information stops them from delivering a rich, personalized shopping experience for their customers.
To further complicate matters, the report states that only 7% of all store associates can see a customer’s wish list during an in-store appointment. If associates were granted access to their customer’s wish lists during their visit, they could make informed, relevant recommendations to the shopper.
One of the most common approaches to omnichannel strategy by retailers is to provide choices on how a customer can receive their purchase. An important topic for retailers is to remove any friction from the payment process and to provide multiple fulfillment options and delivery methods. The report shows that 26% of brands offer buy-online-pickup-in-store options while 29% of brands offer buy-online-return-in-store options.
Read more on retail omnichannel strategies
Not only do apparel retailers need a solid omnichannel approach to appeal to consumers, but with e-commerce currently experiencing a 30% return rate (read more on intentional returns and e-commerce) and shipping, warehousing, and processing costs all skyrocketing, retailers need more than just omnichannel strategies: they also need a modern liquidation process to sell off returned and overstocked items that can no longer be sold as new.
B-Stock provides retailers a private, online marketplace to auction off returned and overstock merchandise, on an ongoing basis, to a large network of business buyers from across the country. By selling via their own B2B liquidation marketplace to a larger buyer group, retailers can increase recovery rates and keep warehouses from hitting capacity.
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