As retailers around the world compete to deliver the optimal omnichannel experience, consumers are gaining access to more frequent, groundbreaking shopping experiences. These experiences are key to brands developing a competitive advantage in a crowded retail field. Those that are offering their customers the opportunity to interact with them seamlessly at any time, location, and channel are the ones who really stand out.
However, the channel boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and the purchase decision is influenced not by a single channel, but many. For brands, this means every channel — stores, apps, websites, social media platforms — must be constantly evolving and delivering on the latest trends to best engage customers.
As a marketer, I find this extremely exciting and have been on the lookout for brands that have been doing an exceptional job over the last few months. Here are my four favorites:
1. Accelerating the Checkout Process in Supermarkets
In April 2019, British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s experimented a new feature on its mobile app in one of its London stores. This feature offered customers the opportunity to scan items through the app as they shop, pay directly through the app, then scan a QR code at checkout to complete the transaction. By leveraging the SmartShop Scan, Pay and Go technology, Sainsbury’s is saving its clients time by making checkout lines a thing of the past.
This is a perfect response to customers yearning for an easier and faster shopping experience. Sainsbury’s aims to use this functionality to increase customer loyalty and encourage purchases by time-conscious customers — a challenge they should easily accomplish if early returns hold true.
2. Mobile Functionalities to Incentivize In-Store Purchases
Beauty retailer Sephora is using beacons to identify where app users are entering one of their stores. As soon as consumers are located, the relevant information is pushed to them including anything from a store map to special deals. This helps to enhance the connection between Sephora and its customers, further enticing the customer to make an in-store purchase decision.
The digital experience doesn’t stop there though. Sephora also provides its employees with mobile devices in order to assist customers in their purchase decisions. With “endless aisle” functionality, this allows associates to share and order anything from the Sephora catalog with customers, including items that may not be in stock at the current location.
3. Unrivaled digital experiences in-store to boost customer engagement
In Nike’s newly opened “House of Innovation” in New York, the focus is entirely on creating personalized and interactive experiences. Every floor of its 6,000sqm flagship store on 5th Avenue showcases the brand’s amazing storytelling ability while offering customers a top-notch “Retailtainment” experience. Nike offers a truly innovative omnichannel experience to its customers which includes:
- The Nike Speed Shop – This area on the ground floor is populated with the most popular items. The cool part though is that product selection and restock is based on data collected directly from the online Nike community. NikePlus members can pick the items of their choice online via their app, reserve them in a locker and come pick them up whenever they want.
- Personalization and Customization – Nike Members can book an appointment with a Nike Expert while in store or via their app to help them find the right fit, create a look or customize their Nike clothes and accessories.
- Leveraging of the Nike App – The Nike app offers several unique functions and features to improve the in-store experience. The “Shop the Look” feature allows customers to scan a code on a mannequin to identify the displayed items. The “Scan to Try” function can request a specific item be brought to you for a quick fitting. There is even an “Instant Checkout” feature that allows customers to pay from anywhere in the shop and avoid long lines.
As a pioneer in experiential shopping, Nike understands that the power of technology can make a difference between buying or leaving, and is taking full advantage of it.
4. Voice Shopping Debuts
ASOS launched a voice shopping experience in late 2018 that allows its users to converse with an automated shopping guide. With voice shopping expected to increase in the U.K. to a market worth $5 billion by 2022, ASOS was looking to get ahead of the latest trend in tech and retail.
Now, customers in the U.S. and the U.K. can start a conversation smart speaker by saying: “Hey Google, talk to ASOS.” Thanks to that feature, users can be expertly guided through six of the top men’s and women’s apparel categories and make their purchases via their smart speaker. ASOS constantly uses user feedback to help them continuously improve this experience which will surely pay off in the long run.
Omnichannel Marketing is the Key to Strengthening the Relationship with Customers
As a marketer, I am fascinated by the effort brands put into truly understanding their customers. Why have brands been increasingly embracing omnichannel marketing strategies in the last years? The answer is simple; omnichannel innovations are a direct way to address the strength of the relationship between a brand and its customers. In other words, omnichannel marketing helps brands get closer to their customers through consistent and interactive brand experiences, whether it be online or offline.
Although the concept itself of omnichannel marketing is already a few years old, it continues to evolve, as new trends such as AR/VR or voice commerce emerge. Throughout the years, the watchword remains the same: customer-centricity. It is essential for brands to deeply understand their customers in order to meet their expectations.
These four brilliant examples illustrate how brands are striving for customer-centric innovations. Thanks to a successful and comprehensive omnichannel strategy, each channel serves the other in order to satisfy the customer at every touchpoint. This is how to truly engage with customers, and that isn’t changing anytime soon.