What New Omnichannel Trends Really Mean for Customers

omnichannel-ecommerce-cloud-300Remember when retailers were scared of their online competitors? While talk of customer showrooming and digital detraction are still big, there is a totally opposite trend happening. Retailers who once only sold online are building stores for customers to visit in real life.

Becoming truly omnichannel

We do live in an omnichannel world, but it can still be surprising to learn how many online retailers are experimenting with brick and mortar.

Amazon recently announced they’re opening their first store ever right in the middle of New York City. Warby Parker has opened several stores and stores-within-stores by partnering with already established eye wear retailers. Plated, the online meal-delivery service, offers a truck instead of a stationary storefront for its hungry New York patrons.

Why would companies who once touted online as the only way be moving into a more traditional model for customers?  Customers today want to shop how they want.

Here are 5 ways these online to offline innovators are offering the next wave of the omnichannel experience.

1. Customers want convenience

Convenience is king. If customers have the ability to order a product online and pick up or return it to a local store, sales increase as much as 18 percent, according to a Shop Visible study. Our schedules are packed and we want to know we can interact on our terms.

2. Customers want to know your culture

Warby Parker is a favorite example of mine because they deliver such exceptional and innovative experiences for customers. The company personality shines through everything they do. Customers want to know them even more, so their stores are reflective of their fun and playful culture. They provide photo booths for customers to try on various frames and see for themselves which they prefer.

Customers want to be a part of the culture they’ve created.

3. Customers want to discover

Most of the online retailers moving into the offline world are focusing on high foot traffic areas in New York City. Some, like Warby Parker, have opened stores in other cities. Others, like online beauty retailer Bauble Bar, say they plan on only the one store for now. These storefronts literally become advertising and a way to reach customers who many not be as digitally inclined.

Discovering a favorite new lip gloss by sampling it in-store is a much different experience than receiving one that might not work through the mail. Stores help customers discover things they want on their terms.

4. Customers want it both ways

The most innovative companies are providing experiences that move seamlessly from digital to real life. While customers want to experience products in tangible ways, they want the ability to order the same product later without much hassle.

Jockey, the underwear company, launched a new bra line for women with totally different sizing options. Customers can order the “sizing kit” online, then use the coupon provided to shop in the retail stores popping up. They track everything for the customer, including recent orders, making shopping easier for customers next time, whether they order online or shop in the store.

5. Customers want the first taste without risk

Plated, the online food delivery service, has started sending out a food truck to feed New Yorkers from the street.  They also cleverly offer samples and coupons for online orders for new customers. Customers get to taste what’s next, literally, and feel more comfortable making that order from home next time.

Customers are ready for a true omnichannel experience. It’s time to see the whole picture for your customers and deliver what they want.

Jeannie Walters is CEO at 360Connext.

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