Completing the Omnichannel Look: A Style Guide for Retailers

8/25/2015
The right heel, the right color, the right cut. Fashion-savvy shoppers are on the hunt for the perfect piece to complete the look. In a world of millions of options, there's often just one right choice — unlike the path to purchase, where shoppers can engage with a retailer in any number of ways.

Most retailers have put a lot of thought into their shoppers' "journey" and are embracing omnichannel concepts and applications to meet their customers at any point along the path to purchase. For these retailers and their customers, shopping is much more than just a visit to a store. It's a trip to a place where want and need intersect. It's part passion, part therapy and part recreation. These retailers are striving for more than a transactional relationship. They want to offer their customers an experience that's memorable, satisfying and engaging.

Great retail destinations create great shopping experiences, and retailers need more than traditional POS systems to make those experiences possible. Research shows that 86 percent of consumers use more than two channels to complete a purchase, and retailers that aren't on the omnichannel catwalk already are far behind.

When it comes to omnichannel engagement, retailers need the next-generation store systems and in-store mobile solutions designed to personalize the sales process in a way that fits their own unique customer engagement model. Here are several guidelines that will help create the right omnichannel look.

Tailor the experience to the shopper
A sense of style is as unique as a fingerprint — and the right fit makes all the difference. The same is true for how retailers interact with customers in store aisles. A one-size-fits-all engagement model just doesn't appeal to shoppers in this segment. They're searching for a more dynamic interaction with a retailer or brand.

Personalized in-store engagement with easy access to customer purchase histories, wish lists, and loyalty program data is a retailer's most valuable asset when interacting with customers. By empowering associates to connect with the customer, retailers can do an even better job of connecting their customers with the right merchandise.

Accessorize the sale
Fashion-conscious shoppers have high expectations — for merchandise and store personnel. In the fast-paced, demanding fashion environment, store associates do more than process transactions – they serve as trusted advisors for shoppers who choose to spend the extra dollar on quality of product and service. They don't have to know all the answers, but they should be able to find them quickly. During a consultative sale, it's important for associates to have easy access to complete merchandise information so they can make relevant and informed suggestions for building a complete outfit or choosing the perfect accessory.

Whether from a mobile device or the register, associates should be able to access product information from internal store systems and the web (including social media conversations) as part of the in-store experience. This gives them the ability to help a shopper make the right choice, and it helps customers feel good about the retailer as they're walking out the door — boosting satisfaction with the store visit and improving the potential of each cross-sell/upsell opportunity.

Mix and match
The most fashion-forward consumers tend to set the trends in how to dress and shop. You won't see them chasing last year's look or following a well-worn path to purchase. They may want to start browsing online, place their order in the store, and have it shipped to a home address, and they assume that the retailer can make it happen. Today's shoppers know what they want — and when they see it, they don't like to hear that the right size or color isn't in stock.

Shopping experiences don't come shrinkwrapped and prepackaged, so retailers need the flexibility to accommodate any path to purchase, without boundaries on how customers browse, buy or fulfill. Orders and in-store purchases can occur anywhere in the store or at the cash wrap, and integrating solutions to help channels work together can create new possibilities for customers.

Retailers need to set their sights on setting bold new trends in retail engagement, with capabilities that:
  • Unlock end-to-end visibility of merchandise within a single store and throughout the enterprise (including all brick-and-mortar locations and online channels)
  • Allow customers to browse, buy, and fulfill their orders using any mix of channels
  • Empower associates to personalize the in-store experience with information on customer preferences and purchase history
Retailers that do this will create much more than a great omnichannel look. They can provide the retail experience that today's shoppers demand. And that's the kind of customer service that will always be in fashion.


Kerry Nelson is VP of Marketing for Starmount, a retail solutions company.

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