With customer bases growing each and every day, many retailers are struggling to keep up with demand. This is especially true for fashion brands that started life as nothing but a physical store. Now, these companies are dealing with online sales from their own sites as well as third parties such as Amazon.
In fashion, a lot can happen in three years. It might feel like the term ‘omnichannel’ has been in the retail lexicon for years, but it actually only became a buzzword back in 2013. The years that have followed have seen retail shift its focus from product, product, product to a more human-friendly approach – retail in 2016 is all about communicating with the consumer to establish their wants and needs. So where does omnichannel fit into today’s retail model – or, rather, is it even relevant any more?
Two major trends stood out at this year’s South by Southwest, Engagement and Relevance and here’s the lowdown on how they will impact brands in 2015.
Topics: millenials, sxsw, e-commerce, tech, mobile, Innovation, mobile commerce, technology, omnichannel, fashion, retail, Weekly Stories, mcommerce, fashion tech, ecommerce, Online Shopping, Retailing
French beauty retailer Sephora is gunning to become a forerunner in digital beauty retailing with the launch of an innovation lab and four new digital initiatives.
Topics: e-commerce, mobile, Innovation, mobile commerce, technology, omnichannel, fashion, social media, retail, beauty, Weekly Stories, mcommerce, fashion tech, mobile apps, instagram, ecommerce, Online Shopping, Retailing
“Excite the mind, and the hand will reach for the pocket.” So said Harry Gordon Selfridge, the famous founder of the eponymous London department store – the best in the world by popular vote. His own dedication to creating the best in-store experience for his customers demonstrated the kinds of innovative thinking that has been adopted by modern department stores ever since. Were he alive today, then, the originator of so many of our retail rules of thumb would certainly be making the most of new technologies – technologies which, in 2014, can enhance the retail experience beyond mere bricks & mortar. But with two weeks to go until the dedicated panel discussion on the subject at our NY summit, what exactly are the technologies that top retailers are embracing in a physical context today?
Recent months have seen a host of high and low-end brands placing hot-off-the-press technologies into the physical retail mix. Beacon technology is the one-to-get to know now – otherwise, the first you hear of it might be as a text alert on your next shopping trip. The technology implements imperceptible pieces of hardware around stores that can pinpoint the location of a consumer’s smartphone. This will allow the retailer to send offers and info to your mobile, with localised know-how. For example, if you pause (longingly) in front of some shoes, the store can send you a link to the latest reviews or info on stock levels. Remember Bluetooth? Us neither – but iBeacon works using a low-energy version of it, and shopping-savvy consumers can keep theirs on using their iPhones and Android phones for very little energy. One of the biggest proponents of this in-store technology, is, paradoxically, the oldest luxury, speciality-retail department store chain in the US: Lord & Taylor, whose investment in digital has seen a partnership rolled out with Beacon technology provider Swirl. Their SVP, Ryan Craver, will be sure to explain the company’s getting behind Beacons as he takes part in our panel discussion on November 18th.
What’s more, a truly successful in-store/on-line strategy might mean more than giving customers a truly personalised experience; as start-ups in the field are increasingly realising, the brands need more personalisation, too. That is, as start-ups target store retailers with their solutions for bespoke customer experience, the brands themselves continue to desire complete control and customisation over the shopping experience proposed by an app. Spring, launched in August of this year, is the much-hyped shopping app with a difference: going further than other tried-and-failed apps of the same genre, Spring integrates with retailer’s existing e-commerce systems to allow products to be purchased by users with a single swipe. Everything on Spring is shoppable, and it seamlessly integrates brand’s existing in-store environment into its Pinterest-style lifestyle shots. Co-founder Alan Tisch will be on hand to discuss the case for apps helping old-fashioned bricks & mortar thrive in years to come.
When it comes to implementing retail technologies today – in-store or at-home – the key is to accompany the customer every step of the way. With iBeacons, innovative apps, digitised SKUs (stock keeping units) and more secure payment methods, there have never been so many reasons to innovate.
Reported by Claire Healy
So what kinds of technology can brands utilise to increase those sales? Online or offline, the trick is a melding of the digital and real world with no discernible difference – the customer’s journey is seamless at every point of contact (and, hopefully, every pay point). Shoppable videos, for example, are starting to gain traction as a more-than-viable way to convert browsers into shoppers. NY-based ‘touchable video’ specialists Cinematique reported an average 13% conversion rate earlier this year – a figure much higher than anything a banner ad could deliver. Wirewax’s taggable video work with Pepe Jeans, meanwhile, had 45% of users clicking an average of 3 times. The more brands engage with the technology, the more the tactic’s ROI can be proven – luxury brands like Gucci, who have already experimented in this area, might help kickstart the trend long-term.
Also bubbling under the digital strategies of fashion’s biggest players are augmented reality applications. Burberry was among the first to embrace AR back in 2011, celebrating its Beijing store opening with an AR catwalk show in which holographic models walked alongside real ones. But fast-forward to 2014, and branded phone apps are using layered realities to drive retail purchases in store. Plus, the universal cart – launched last year by London-based fashion site Lyst – is allowing users to buy luxury items all over the web, in one place. Spring, a new dedicated shopping app, also offers mobile users hundreds of brands at their fingertips.
Technologies like shoppable videos, in-store AR apps and universal carts work because they allow consumers to feel totally in charge of their own retail experience, all whilst increasing brand loyalty with their added ease and innovation. Our New York summit will play host to some of the industry’s most influential players in retail-oriented tech: speakers will include Alan Tisch, founder of Spring, along with a retail panel, headed up by Jared Schiffman (Perch Interactive) and Dan Garraway (Wirewax) focussing on the coolest tech – with the most tangible ROI – around.
Can’t wait that long? Our Milan summit is calling – a day dedicated to exploring the new possibilities of Omnichannel, on October 22nd.
Reported by Claire Healy
No one shops completely offline anymore. Even if you don’t buy online, the choices you make are affected by information that is available via online channels. A recent report from Custora took a look at how we prefer to go about online shopping. We pulled out some of their most interesting omnichannel findings:
We’re not social: People aren’t interested in ‘shopping with friends’ (at least not virtually!): social media drives the fewest conversions - by far. This is true for sales generated on desktops, tablets and mobile phones alike. We don’t visit Facebook to shop, just like we wouldn’t want a generic department store café to be the venue for our birthday party.
We won’t cross-device with everyone: Many of the survey interviewees admitted that they don’t like making first purchases via tablets or mobile - apparently, the majority of us are only comfortable shopping via these two channels if we are purchasing via brands or retailers that we have used before (and feel we can trust). It seems that desktops act as a ‘first base’ for subsequent shopping via other channels.
We take ‘risks’ on a whim: Mobiles generate much lower conversion rates than desktops or tablets do - even though mobile browsing has experienced a substantial increase over the past two years. The average order value of orders placed via mobile phones is also much lower than that of tablets and desktops. People are still getting acquainted with the idea of purchasing through small screens; we browse eagerly while on the move, but making purchases via our phones often feels risky or unintuitive.
It therefore seems somewhat illogical that email marketing is the second-largest driver of mobile conversions. In fact, people purchase via email click-through on their mobile more than they do on their tablets or desktops - impulse shopping at it’s best, despite our reluctance to shop via mobile!
Perhaps there’s a sequence to it:
1. We enter into a relationship with a retailer or brand by stepping on the first base, the desktop.
2. If we like what we get, we may sign up to their online communications and visit their site directly to shop. We may even decide to go further and make a purchase from our tablet.
3. When we are in a trusting relationship with the brand or retailer, we may just go to third base and buy one of their products on impulse, on-the-go on our mobiles, or when enticed by their email marketing.
3. If all goes well, we’ll continue to use different channels and hence become cross-device customers. According to the Custora report, the average customer lifetime value of cross-device shoppers is much higher than that of individuals who shop via just one channel. Homerun for the retailer!
So it seems that the winners are those who cultivate the relationship with their shoppers to such an extent that they turn them into cross-channel shoppers. The only obstacle is finding out who these shoppers are and collecting data about them - join us in Milan for more on ominchannel retail.
Reported by Anna Abrell