Exploring omnichannel: The brands getting it right

Omnichannel

Bruce Griffin’s, founder and CEO of digital agency Rockpool Digital, weekly look at omnichannel.

In the final instalment, Griffin reveals what success looks like.

With effective omnichannel still in its infancy, there aren’t a huge number of best practice examples. But some retailers are getting it right, and delivering great customer experiences and better financial returns as a result.

Here are three of the best examples.

John Lewis

With almost two out of three buying journeys at John Lewis now involving visits to both a shop and the online channels, John Lewis customers don’t buy online, from a department store, or from a catalogue – they buy from John Lewis.

That’s the vision behind the omnichannel retail strategy the company launched in June 2012.

Click and collect launched in 2009 to create an online shopping solution that drives footfall into stores. Based on the growth of that delivery channel, John Lewis expanded collection options to their sister Waitrose stores and 5,500 local neighbourhood shops through Collect+.

The retailer has also been innovative in using mobile to complement the in-store experience. Because they understand that mobile consumers want to research their purchase options online and in-store, often simultaneously, they have embraced showrooming with an iPhone app that enables customers to scan barcodes of products in-store and order online if they’re out of stock.

In October 2012, John Lewis opened its very first omnichannel focussed store format in Exeter. Offering the full list of John Lewis products in a smaller store through the use of online technologies, it has been used to trial interactive technologies and test new concepts:

  • Interactive information screens that ask customers questions in order to help them find the right products;
  • Digital store guides to help customers find their way around the store;
  • Larger wall-mounted screens that provide information on products from the wider John Lewis range.

Oasis

Oasis is one the UK’s leading fashion retailers at bringing together online, mobile, social media and retail stores into a simple, cohesive shopping experience.

In their stores you’ll find sales associates armed with iPads that provide accurate and up-to-date product and stock information. The iPads also act as mobile point of sale terminals making it easier and quicker for customers to purchase.

If something is out of stock, the associate can instantly place an online order for you to have the item shipped directly to your home.

Similarly for online shoppers, if an item is sold out they can use the Seek & Send service, which searches Oasis stores for the product and ships it to the shopper. Once the item is located, the retailer will send an email to allow customers to track their goods.

Oasis sum this up neatly with its Anywhere Everywhere policy. If stock is available anywhere in the business, then it is available everywhere. The effect of this system, where demand dictates supply, was to immediately double the company’s conversion rate so that a quarter of its online sales came from store orders.

Customers can also go online to book their own in-store shopping appointment with a personal stylist. While booking a slot you can select the occasion (birthday, wardrobe overhaul, etc) and read about the personal stylist who will be helping you.

Starbucks

Starbucks regularly find themselves topping omnichannel lists and for good reason: the coffee company does an excellent job in providing a seamless user experience across all channels.

Coffee lovers can check and reload their Starbucks card balance on their phone, through the Starbucks website or when they’re at the store. Customers can pay with either their physical rewards card or using their phone.

Alongside fast and easy payments, reward members can digitally tip their baristas and download free music, apps and books through the Starbucks Pick of the Week program in the mobile app.

They’ve also mastered the creation of a single customer view across all channels, with any balance or profile changes updating in real-time across all channels. Plus, any earned rewards are automatically reflected in the account without any action on the user’s part.

By combining innovation and loyalty incentives, Starbucks have set a standard for customer identification. Customers can move one stepper closer to a free pastry ,or have a free drink on their birthday by downloading and using the mobile app.

This balanced exchange of value has led to one in five Starbucks transaction being done via mobile and a wealth of information for Starbucks about how customers are interacting with their brand.

Bruce Griffin is founder and CEO of digital agency Rockpool Digital

The exploring omnichannel series

1. What is omnichannel?
2. The true value of omnichannel
3. Business barriers to omnichannel
4. Delivering an omnichannel strategy
5. Omnichannel at its best