As online-only retailers continue to see expanded success, traditional brick-and-mortar stores must turn to new strategies to keep up with customer demand. Today’s retail environment demands that the customer shopping journey be a seamless one as it transitions from a physical store to a smartphone app to an interactive catalog (or social media page, or other digital tool) and back again.
But executing such a complex blend of multiple channels isn’t a simple matter, and not every retailer has figured it out just yet. Here are a few omni-channel retailing examples that seem to be on the right track.
Walmart. Walmart must stay on top of the latest retail trends to remain competitive with e-commerce giants like Amazon. In 2017 alone, Walmart has launched its Scan-and-Go app that aims to smooth the in-store shopping experience by eliminating the cumbersome process of waiting in line to check out. The app allows customers to scan items as they are selected and placed into a shopping cart. At the conclusion of their visit, they are able to pay for their goods with a tap on their smartphones. Walmart has also moved towards streamlining its inventory control process by making it easier for suppliers to list products both in-store and online, thereby boosting the number of products available on the retailer’s website.
Nike. Nike has implemented omni-channel retailing by fully integrating their stores with their online presence in terms of both design and functionality. Both store and site are designed with a colorful, vibrant aesthetic that encourages exploration. Consumers can shop anywhere–online, in-store, via mobile–and order products to be shipped anywhere as well. In addition, the NIKEiD service is a unique offering that allows customers to design custom footwear and other merchandise for a fun, personalized design. This service is available online and in some stores, and store associates are trained to promote online options when they best suit a customer’s needs. In 2016, Nike took the added step of opening a richer in-store experience for shoppers in the Soho area of New York: the 55,000-sq-ft space boasts a mini basketball court, treadmill, soccer area, and customization shoe bar. It’s an experience that e-commerce can’t offer.
Macy’s. Macy’s has offered consumers an online shopping option since 1998, when the retailer first launched Macys.com. But the company has made innovative strides since that time as it reworks its digital strategy with the goal of a customer-focused, omni-channel retailing experience. In an effort to create a hybrid digital/physical retail presence, Macy’s has leveraged its huge network of retail locations as online fulfillment centers. Orders can be shipped from a store, and customers can also buy online to pick up items in the store. In addition, Macy’s has adopted radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track the specific location of a given product within the supply chain. The technology reportedly helps maintain inventory accuracy and gather data about consumer demand.
DSW. TotalRetail’s Top 100 Omni-Channel Retailers Report awards the number-one ranking to DSW, and for good reason. The shoe retailer tied with three other companies for the top spot but received the highest possible scores for omni-channel elements like “shared cart” (where brands and/or customer accounts can share a single online shopping cart) and loyalty points that can be earned and redeemed across channels. It’s likely that the retailer will maintain its strong focus on omni-channel as well: Roger Rawlins, who oversaw the company’s omni-channel strategy from 2014 to 2015, was named CEO in December 2015.
Amazon. You might ask why the e-commerce king is on this list, but the execs at Amazon know that brick-and-mortar stores offer something valuable that even the most robust online shopping platform cannot: an innovative, memorable shopping experience. That’s why the company has begun to build a swath of physical stores, starting with grocery stores and bookstores, to serve as showcases and allow shoppers to browse and interact with products in person. Amazon’s physical locations have thus far placed a strong emphasis on a “frictionless” shopping experience in an effort to eliminate some of the hassles that usually come with shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores. For instance, the Amazon Go convenience store concept uses sensor technology to track items as they are picked up and added to carts; the technology then automatically charges the customer’s account when they have finished their shopping.
These omni-channel retailing examples are not comprehensive, but they do give a good overview of what companies are doing in 2017 to stay on top of customer demands and retail industry trends.