Omnichannel in fashion retail: Meeting the connected consumer
How can we define today’s fashion consumer? Conducting window shopping online, using social media for peers’ endorsement or checking his mobile in-store to get a hand on the sequin dress identified online, is just a few of their characteristics. Shoppers travel across different shopping journeys – be it on ecommerce sites, mobile apps, or in-stores – jumping from one channel to another. 42% of shoppers even search for information online while in stores. From browsing to locating and buying, shoppers want to see it all and want to buy it now.
Multichannel? No, omnichannel. Because it is not about meeting the consumer on separated and disconnected channels, but rather about embracing a holistic and overlaying approach to provide a seamless user experience across all channels. It is about ensuring the brand’s consistency and continuity while meeting a multi-faceted demanding consumer.
Adopting an omnichannel strategy is all about recognizing the evolution of customers shopping patterns and adapting to those in order not to be out ruled by the fast-changing game rules and to remain a key player. It’s about preserving your brand identity, by ensuring your brand’s feel and visual consistency across all channels. It is about choosing an integrated strategy which would not only meet, but exceed your customers’ expectations. It is about offering more than a product, but rather a true “experience” or a “journey”.
Integrating an omnichannel approach tackles different operational aspects some of whom can be pretty challenging to a retailer:
- A consistency in price promotion across the offline, online and mobile channels
- A tight collaboration between the different brand’s department, i.e. stock, marketing and sales
- A harmonization of payment and return policies across channels: Offering payment through the mobile app while the consumer is in the store; the ability to pay online using gift cards; or allowing the consumer to return items in-store that have been bought online
- An in-store staff equipped with tablets so that they can see what the customer saw online and offer personal and customized shopping service
- An ability to scan any barcode in the store that would pull up product details
- Allowing consumers to check in-store availability
- Offering the click & collect concept: buy online, pick up in store.
Foremost, embracing omnichannel means relying on and exploiting data. While digital retargeting techniques are very common in the fashion retail industry,, much less can be said about using online data and transferring it to the offline channel.
According to consulting firm Centric Digital, the problem is that most retailers still lack the insights and tools necessary to transform that behavior from browsing to buying. 67% of retail executives cite a lack of customer analytics across channels while 45% confess to an inability to identify customers across shopping trips.
Yet, making smart use of technology would enhance the customer’s experience, and by extension, increase the chances of purchases. In other words, leveraging technology across the shopping cycle can represent a goldmine for the retailer.
Imagine if you would recognize the consumer entering your store after having visited the evening dresses section of your website or of any other brand’s website. You would be familiar with the consumer’s tastes, know where to direct him, and what kind of promotion would best suit him.
Clearly, the more insights you have about your customer, the more effectively you can respond to his needs and improve your chances of success while driving brand loyalty throughout the shopping cycle.
As such, gaining a deeper understanding of the customers cannot happen without technology investment. According to the BoF-McKinsey Global Fashion Survey, placing big bets on technology in 2017 increases a company’s chances of being a future winner.
Surely, adopting a proper omnichannel approach is not without any challenges, but those would be worth the effort if the brand is to meet its millennial consumer. We can see many companies that are already taking advantage of that trend and have incorporated that successful recipe in-house or rather, omni device.