In today’s 24/7 world, consumers want service when they want, where they want, and—for those interacting digitally—via the device of their choice. Savvy retailers have learned that shoppers are no longer disassociating their online shopping experiences from those they have in-store. They expect (okay, demand) a unified customer experience across each and every sales channel.
It’s no easy feat for even established ecommerce businesses, but the effort to host a holistic consumer environment pays off. Studies show that solid omnichannel strategies can rake in the big bucks for e-tailers, queuing up customers that are more engaged, more loyal, and more likely to fill up their shopping carts. In response, retailers adopting omnichannel models are thoughtfully building cohesive strategies that leverage in-store technology, proprietary apps, and razor-honed communications that serve to bridge the gap between the online and offline customer journey.
Whether you’ve already joined the omnichannel movement or are just giving it serious thought, it makes sense to learn how others in the industry are creatively integrating experiences across their sales channels. The nine online retailers below are examples of small-to-midsize businesses that are taking their omnichannel strategies to the bank—and they just may inspire your business.
How they’re doing omnichannel: A convenient, no-pressure try-on experience whether online or in store.
Warby Parker is notable for its many disruptive strategies (selling glasses online, for starters), but they weren’t named the “poster child of the future store” for nothing. The direct-to-consumer eyewear brand began opening physical stores in 2013 after massive success online,and carefully built parity into the customer experience: Service is convenient and low-key, with plenty of options available and knowledgeable sales associates on standby to answer questions. How has this carefully curated and unified customer experience paid off? Warby Parker’s annual revenue totals $250 million, up from $23.7 million in 2012.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Proprietary software tracks each customer’s personal style from online and in-store interactions.
Personalization is a major draw for shoppers, which is why curated products and experiences are continually popular. Luxury online clothing retailer MatchesFashion saw the trend as an opportunity to better connect with customers and partnered with Proximity Insight to create a product recommendation software. The solution tracks customers’ order history both online and in-store, then uses that data to inform personal styling appointments. No matter which channel customers choose for shopping, they’ll be met with recommended products based on their unique preferences. Before the pandemic hit, MatchesFashion achieved double-digit growth for eight years in a row and brought in $595 million in 2019.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Automated inventory management ensures customers always know what’s in stock.
Like many small businesses, Rider Shack started as a small footprint, brick-and-mortar store that later added an online channel to meet demand. But with 13,000 products and counting, the surf and skate brand struggled early on to manage their inventory, and had to cancel at least two orders per week due to stockouts. The solution? Ridershack embraced ecommerce automation to put their inventory management on autopilot. Now customers can confidently shop online knowing they’ll get the same high quality customer service and product selection that made Rider Shack’s store a local favorite. And $500,000 annually isn’t bad for a shop that was once only 500 sq. ft.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Near-field communication technology makes showrooming easy and official.
Showrooming — the practice of browsing in-store and then buying online — is a major pain point for today’s retailers, but outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland uses it to their advantage. While shopping in a physical store, customers are offered tablets equipped with near-field communication technology to help them browse. From there they can see product information and related products, build wish lists, and e-mail themselves those lists to complete the purchase at home. By integrating technology into the multiple touchpoint shopping experience, Timberland gets to immerse shoppers in the brand, all to the tune of $1.8 billion annually. Proof their omnichannel strategy is effective? Revenue in 2015, the year before the first digitally connected store opened, totaled $41 million.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Warehouses and stores are optimized to fulfill online and in-store orders, making BOPIS available as well.
Denim retailer Lucky Brand has spent years weaving together its online and in-store operations to ensure a seamless customer experience, with the backbone of its omnichannel strategy being its warehouses. The retailer’s physical stores and warehouses work together to fulfill orders and get products in hand as quickly as possible. In-store sales associates are equipped with tablets to search nearby inventory or order online and ship to the customer’s home. Similarly, online customers can take advantage of BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) selecting fun new looks from the comfort of their armchairs and then picking them up at Lucky Brand locations. How does this help the brand win? Annual revenue totals $500 million.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Data sync automation plus-sizes the store’s operations to serve an online customer base.
One of the most difficult challenges retailers face is unifying the customer experience between their online and offline operations. While multiple sales channels usually have vastly different requirements, it’s unwise to focus on one while neglecting the others. Sporting goods retailer Bases Loaded cleared this hurdle by leveraging ecommerce automation to seamlessly sync their inventory data. Now their inventory is always accurate across channels, and new products brought to the store are auto-added to the brand’s online marketplace. The organization was recognized by INC as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. for five years in a row and now reports an annual revenue of $1.5 million.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Online survey data and order history informs in-store product curation experiences.
Learning a customer’s style choices can take valuable time, so MM.LaFleur leads shoppers to an online survey where they pick the clothes they like so stylists can curate outfits for them. The personalized collections are shipped to customers’ homes, where they have four days to try items on and return what they don’t want to keep. MM.LaFleur then uses this data to build curated closets for customers who shop in-store. For online-only customers, the quiz helps the retailer better learn shopper preferences, resulting in higher sales and fewer returns. The results? Win-win: An estimated $72 million in annual revenue.
How they’re doing omnichannel: The Heal’s app connects online shoppers with in-store experts and bridges the gap between channels.
Buying furniture online is (usually) risky business, as shoppers take a chance on fabrics, styles, and comfort levels without trying them out first. Conversely, the in-store experience can be just as clunky, with logistics challenges and little to no help from technology. That’s why Heal’s partnered with software developer Hero for the remedy: an app that connects shoppers with sales associates. The in-store experts are available to take video calls and answer questions not shown on the Heal’s website. According to reports, the app has driven both online conversions and store traffic, leading to revenue totalling $52.2 million annually.
How they’re doing omnichannel: Geo-location targeting beckons online shoppers to physical showrooms.
Another ecommerce to brick-and-mortar success story, apparel retailer Indochino made its name by offering custom suits at an affordable price. Shoppers simply submit their measurements, choose fabrics and colors, and eagerly await the finished product. In 2015, the brand saw showrooms as its next growth strategy and began offering in-store experiences for customers, such as try-ons and pop-up tailoring. Online data informs the entire exchange and is stored for the next time the customer comes around. How we know it’s a smash success? Annual revenue increased 57% the first year the showrooms opened and now totals $100 million.
Have omnichannel strategy tips or know of an up-and-coming omnichannel brand we should watch? Let us know on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook — or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org