There’s a lot of buzz surrounding omnichannel retailing and WHY retailers should do it, but the HOW of it all isn’t always clear.
Which is why instead of just talking about the benefits of omnichannel, we’ll look at real-life examples of retailers that are implementing it well. Whether a retailer is just starting in the path of omnichannel retailing or simply looking for ways to refine your existing strategy, these five examples should give a better idea of how to do it right:
Crate & Barrel
The company recognizes that many shoppers switch from the ecommerce web site to smartphone to tablet when conducting research and completing purchases, so when customers are signed in, the Crate & Barrel app saves their ecommerce shopping cart so they can access their information across multiple mobile devices and browsers. This enables them to pick up where they left off no matter where they are in the shopping process.
Crate & Barrel also provides a seamless customer experience to shoppers using its wedding and gift registry. People can still create and monitor their registries online and in the store, but to make things more convenient, the Crate & Barrel app lets them manage their registry right from their mobile device.
Using the app, shoppers can create and edit their registry, scan barcodes in the stores to add items, and even see purchases made in real time.
UK fashion retailer Oasis has an ecommerce site, a mobile app, and several brick-and-mortar locations and it does a pretty good job in fusing those channels to give people a great shopping experience.
Oasis arms its in-store associates with iPads to give shoppers on-the-spot information on product availability. This also allows the staff to ring up customers from anywhere in the shop. And if an item isn’t in-stock, the staff can use their iPads to place ecommerce orders for the customer.
A similar service is made available for online shoppers. If an item is sold out online, customers can use Oasis’ “Seek & Send” service where the retailer searches its stores for the product and ships it to the shopper. Once the item is located, Oasis will send an email to notify shoppers and let them track their goods.
In addition, Oasis provides convenient (and free) options when it comes to returning items. Aside from letting people ship their items back or return them by heading to any Oasis branch, the retailer also offers easy returns through a service called Collect+ that lets shoppers return purchases through a network over 5,500 drop off points in local stores, including convenient stores and grocery stores, allowing customers to return items outside of the normal 9 to 5 post office hours.
The Starbucks rewards app is frequently mentioned in “top” lists of omnichannel efforts and for good reason: the coffee company does an excellent job in providing a seamless user experience across all channels.
Customers have the option of checking and reloading their Starbucks card balance through their phone, the Starbucks website, or when they’re at the store. Any balance or profile changes are also updated in real-time, across all channels, letting users stay in-the-know no matter where they are or what device they’re using. Plus, any earned rewards are automatically reflected in the account without any action on the user’s part.
When it comes to payments, people can either pay with their physical rewards card or using their phone, and the balance will automatically be updated online and in the app.
Through its “My Beauty Bag” program, cosmetics retailer Sephora makes it easy for its loyal customers to manage their “loved” products and purchase history from any mobile device.
Sephora’s Beauty Insiders (i.e. members of its reward program) can use their Beauty Bag on their mobile or on their computer to view and track their purchases and rewards. They can add items to their shopping list, view their buying history, save items for future purchases, and easily re-order items.
Shopping is a breeze with the ability for users to purchase products right from the app itself. Alternatively, when they’re in the store, they can use Sephora’s app to access their shopping list to complement their in-store experience.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is utilizing multiple channels to enable customers to place orders wherever they are. People can place an order online for pick-up at the nearest Chipotle location, and they can also use its official mobile app to order on the go.
Plus if they create an account, users will be able to track past orders and save their favorites for faster ordering in the future. Account information can be accessed both online and using the app.
To pull off a successful omnichannel strategy, a retail store needs to determine the key tasks or actions that customers perform throughout the shopping experience, and then let them accomplish those tasks across multiple channels. Omnichannel retailing isn’t solely about selling across multiple channels; it’s also about letting the customer do whatever it is they need to do throughout their shopping journey no matter what device or platform they’re on.
What other merchants doing a great job with omnichannel retailing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Jason Trout is the VP of Marketing at ShoppinPal.
This article was originally published in 2014 and is frequently updated