Omni Channel

Omni channel retailing is the capability to distribute goods and services via a range of  brand and retail distribution channels, both online and offline. Omni channel retailing best practice brands provide superior consumer experiences in all relevant channels (up to 10), without getting drowned by the cost or complexity that comes with operating so many channels.

Omni channel retail has become the core strategy of the retail and brand industry, but it has equally become the marketing buzzword for many services that don’t merit the title.

Our omni channel section separates buzzword from best practice strategies and shares some of the best omni channel retail across the industry with you. And as always on Brand Growth Inspiration, the contributions are written by experienced industry experts for excellent industry managers.

Store Operations Excellence: Why All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Online stores continue to gain market shares, making it crucial for brick and mortar stores to defend their piece of the cake. An exceptional customer experience and store operations excellence are two promising strategies to keep customers coming despite more convenient channels.

This article is about the operational excellence of brick and mortar stores in times of digitalisation, and why technological innovation will not suffice when it comes to providing an outstanding customer experience. (more…)

The Art of Creating Successful Store Concepts: How to Avoid the Complexity Trap

Amazon closes down all physical book stores, pop-ups and 4-star stores in the UK and US. Do you want to learn how to avoid their mistakes?

Despite the initial media hype and large investments in technology, the stores failed to deliver the expected returns. And while that does come as a surprise, we questioned whether packing stores with digital gimmicks will make up for missing the essentials of retailing right after their opening.

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Special Edition: Post Covid-19 Omnichannel Retail

With consumer shopping behavior changing during Corona, the purpose of the retail store is shifting and brands are accelerating the omnichannel transformation

Our brand experts highlight the strategies some of the brands are pursuing: bringing the store experience into consumers’ homes and utilizing stores as fulfillment and delivery hubs improving stock utilization are some examples.

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How US Brick & Mortar Stores Can Survive in the Digital Age

Brick and mortar in the digital age: learn how Nike, Recreational Equipment Inc and other leading retailers thrive despite the ongoing retail shakeout in the United States.

Numerous articles over the past few years have discussed the retail apocalypse occurring across the United States. Already this year, almost 8,000 stores have announced that they will be closing their doors with projections to reach 12,000 doors by year end. This will amount to the single largest net loss of retail stores over the past eight years.

brick & mortar digital age
(Source: CoreSight)

Despite many prognosticators promoting the end of the brick and mortar store, there are multiple examples of brands who are leveraging their physical and digital footprints to establish deeper, more meaningful relationships with their customers.  However, before we dive into the future, it’s important to examine the key lessons from the past.

Oversupply + Little Differentiation = ‘Sea of Sameness’

Moving back to the United States after living in Europe for a few years, I was struck by how similar each shopping center looked, no matter what part of the country I was in. The sheer size of the US, access to cheap capital, and a heavy reliance on the automobile fueled a massive expansion of retail stores. Retailers could largely drive annual revenue increases by simply opening up more and more doors. As of 2015, there was five times more total retail space per capita than in France or the UK but only 50% higher sales per capita.

brick and mortar in the digital age
(Chart: Chilton Capital Management)

The rise of e-commerce, which has reached 35% of all US apparel sales last year, has only accelerated the inevitable demise of many venerable retailers such as Kmart, Toys’R’Us and Payless Shoe Source. An increasing number of doors were competing for the same customers with nearly the same product offering and in-store experience. This resulted in a ‘sea of sameness’.

The Future of Brick and Mortar in the Digital Age

Rather than viewing their stores as a dinosaur, successful retailers are transforming their physical locations to create a deeper, more tactile experience than online-only shopping can. Since omnichannel customers purchase twice as often and spend more than single-channel customers, retailers will need to adopt three basics principles to ultimately survive in the US marketplace.

Create Digitally Connected Journeys

US retailers are investing millions of dollars annually to enable greater omnichannel integration, yet there remains a long way to go. According to L2’s recent omnichannel report, just over 25% of US retailers offer BOPIS (Buy online, pick up in store) and just over one-third provide ship from store capability.

Nike’s new Innovation House in Shanghai and New York, for example, has heavily embedded digital in-store technology to provide consumers greater choice and ease in their shopping journey. Using the Nike app, consumers are able to ‘Shop the Look’, which places a mannequin’s entire outfit in a virtual shopping cart. ‘Scan to Try’ allows the consumer to send items to a fitting room of the their choice.  ‘Instant Checkout’ speeds up the payment process by allowing consumers to skip the line and buy their items through the Nike app.

brick and mortar digital age
(Photo: Nike)

Evolve from Selling Products to Selling Experiences

It’s not just millennials who are placing greater emphasis on experiences. Research shows that almost 75% of all Americans surveyed prioritise experience over products or things. While this might threaten many traditional retailers, some brands are expanding their offering to meet consumers where they are and, ultimately, create a deeper relationship.

Recreational Equipment Inc (REI), the largest outdoor retailer and cooperative in the US, is aggressively expanding its rental offering and used gear options. Knowing that consumers may feel intimidated about venturing into the outdoors, REI “sees the expanded rental and used gear program as keeping us moving towards a sustainable and accessible outdoor future by offering a new model of access to great outdoor gear and apparel,” says Ben Steele, Chief Customer Officer at REI.

Each rental occasion also offers REI two additional consumer touchpoints, one upon pick-up and another when returning the gear. And each touchpoint gives REI the opportunity to not only sell additional products but also share its knowledge and passion for the outdoors.

brick and mortar in the digital age
(Source: REI)

Evolve the Sales Associate to a Service Partner

In an age where consumers have so many choices to spend their hard-earned money, the days of the inattentive or pushy salesperson are coming to an end. Despite consumers’ reliance on smartphones through their shopping journey, there remains a need and a potential source of differentiation for stores to provide the compelling service.

In Nike’s Innovation House, the new Expert Studio is Nike’s first dedicated floor to provide member-only experiences such as one-to-one appointments, access to exclusive products and the option to create personalised products in the Nike By You Studio. Most luxury brands already offer an elevated level of service due to their high price points. Nike is providing a similar high-touch consumer experience, and with the Nike app a segmented product strategy and in-store experience to keep the most valuable customers in the Nike DTC ecosystem.

Not all brands in the crowded and competitive US marketplace will be able to make this transition and ultimately not all will survive. While some past market leaders, like Sears and Toys’R’Us, have not been able to pivot their business model, this does not mean that brick and mortar retail is dead in the US. Strengthening omnichannel integration and creating experiences that are meaningful to their most valuable customers are critical steps for all retailers to consider as they try to thrive in a very competitive and tumultuous marketplace in the United States.


About the Author:

With 25+ years in the sports and fashion industry across the United States, Europe and Asia, John Ensminger, has worked with leading brands including Nike, The North Face, K2 Sports and Carhartt to develop breakthrough, actionable strategies that strengthen their brand position and drive growth and profitability. Read his posts here or connect with him on LinkedIn to further discuss brick and mortar in the digital age.

Omnichannel Best Practice at Scale

How do you achieve loyalty card identification in 80% of all purchases and 2x higher spend of omnichannel versus retail only customers?

In this article we explore the ecosystem and customer journey touchpoints that enable Dutch grocer Albert Heijn to meet customer demand and drive omnichannel spend. With 1000 stores and >100k online orders per week, this is true omnichannel best practice at scale.

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Scan, Shop, Go – Omnichannel Best Practice Retail Made in Germany

After three years of research and testing 80 omnichannel services, fashion retailer Bonprix has opened a world-class omnichannel best practice store in Hamburg.

There can no longer be any doubt: the future in retail is neither pure online, nor strictly brick & mortar, but omnichannel retail tapping into the best of both worlds. But the challenge remains to find the best ways to balance the two. And Hamburg is likely a witness to what can currently be considered global omnichannel best practice.

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Inspirational Business Model for Omni Channel Retail

The need for constant innovation in retail is a call to action. I’d love to motivate retailers to execute their innovative spirit with simple acts of creativity.

One option is to develop your customers’ new favourite place, spaces where the community meets to share common passions in a relaxed atmosphere while experiencing brands and their product offerings.

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Global Retail Best Practice – 100 Ideas from around the world

The likes of Amazon and Alibaba opened tech-heavy brick & mortar stores, but best practice commercial brand retail still lives elsewhere.

Sales reports of industry show that recent years were good for large parts of the lifestyle brand industry. Almost 4/5 of the top 100 European and US American lifestyle brands had a growth year, and for the most part did better than the year before. This was despite a global department store fallout and online growth and was largely based e.com and store growth.

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Customer Acquisition Online: Challenges and Opportunities for Brands

Building a successful e-commerce business requires a strong online customer acquisition strategy, especially when the competition are big platforms like Amazon or Zalando. How can brands leverage their strengths to compete?

A brands’ ability to operate a successful e-commerce business clears the path to bigger margins and critical access to customer acquisition insights compared to wholesale channels. If you are an executive working for a ‘traditional’ fashion brand and want to better understand the marketing of your online store, ask your e-commerce director this simple question:

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How to Measure Omnichannel Management Success

Brand growth management already has many KPIs. What omnichannel measurement do you use to determine the payback of your investment?

Summertime is brand strategy planning time, when brand managers prepare for battle with their KPIs to prepare for new recruiting and securing a higher share of next year’s investments for their channel. But consumers have fundamentally challenged that profit centre logic. Perhaps it’s also time to rework your brand investment planning and the KPIs that measure brand growth success?

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Amazon on the Road to Omnichannel Retail Success?

While most brands and retailers are building and expanding their online stores, Amazon is investing in brick & mortar: a surprising update on Amazon’s omnichannel retail status.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re running a billion-dollar brand. Last year’s net expansion of stores was negative (not counting a recent acquisition) and your share in online sales remains below 5%. Can you already feel how analysts and journalists rip you to shreds over your unconvincing omnichannel retailing?

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Size Matters! 4 High and Low Tech Solutions for Fashion Size Finding

Fashion size finding remains a challenge for retailers and consumers. Choose the right fit for you from our shortlist of size finding technologies.

Finding the right size is of course crucial when shopping for fashion. It is therefore no big surprise that failing to find the correct size or fit is the reason that consumers mention most frequently for aborting a shopping experience, both online and in brick and mortar stores.

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