What, Why, How, and When: The Omnichannel Experience

The retail industry is at a watershed moment. Retailers have been adopting online experiences for the in-store shopper for years. But now, as stores reopen during a global pandemic, there is the critical need to have a strong omnichannel strategy.

Apparel Omnichannel Retail Technology

What is an Omnichannel Experience? 

Omnichannel retail connects and extends the shoppers’ experience from the e-commerce site, native app, in-store, and any other touchpoint so the experience is seamless across all channels – shoppers may even utilize multiple channels simultaneously. 

Why Use an Omnichannel User Experience? 

While there are many benefits to the instant gratification of shopping in-store – touching and feeling the products, trying on clothes for size, and walking out with purchases – these aspects of the in-store experience need to evolve to keep up with the new shopper. For example, 65% of women and 54% of men say they are not willing to use a fitting room due to health concerns related to COVID-19, so apparel retailers are looking to omnichannel solutions to address size and fit.  

How Can Apparel Brands Adopt Omnichannel Experiences?

  • Understand your customer’s journeys: Identifying the most meaningful touchpoints for your customer and how they reach those points is the critical first step in designing a successful omnichannel experience. Customers can browse online and order for in-store pick-up. Another customer may browse in-store and order an online-only product to be shipped to their home. Alternatively, some customers choose to shop and purchase exclusively online or in-store. Either way, understanding the various avenues to purchase allows retailers to deliver consistent experiences. With an omnichannel approach, retailers enable customers to research an item, ask questions through chat or in person, see color variants, and identify their size no matter which way a customer may prefer to shop.
  • Optimize channels with context: Retailers who maximize their channels’ strengths are more likely to experience success because they consider the different uses of each channel as it pertains to the customer’s journey. 
    Shoppers who click an item that is optimized for research and purchase on social media, for example, Instagram, trigger a customer journey which can lead to:
    • Navigating to the e-commerce site or native app to see additional views of the item (for example, colors available and on-model images) 
    • Using a size advisor to get a recommendation
    • Selecting the store pick-up option at the checkout to receive the item the same day
  • Deliver experiences seamlessly: The brick-and-mortar retailer has experienced a disruption like never before. Those that are overcoming the challenge of store closures are delivering seamless experiences across channels. Retailers, like Amaro, who are utilizing Fit Finder technology in stores to help customers identify their correct size online, or retailers that have native apps that connect with the point-of-sale system, are harnessing the benefits of both channels simultaneously. 

When to Deliver Omnichannel Experiences? 

Retailers can begin to adopt omnichannel solutions right away by equipping store associates with tablets or setting up kiosks connected to e-commerce. Envision an omnichannel shopping experience where the employee uses a tablet to answer product-related queries whilst the shopper uses the size advisor function on their native app to get the best size recommendation. The in-store applications are synced to the point-of-sale system, so the shopper can purchase in-store or online-only merchandise on the spot. This eliminates the need for queues and fitting rooms – and makes the in-store experience positive and consistent with online channels. 

Apparel retailers that are sure to find success as the dust settles will be those that understand and address the expectations of shoppers with omnichannel strategies. This entails serving customers where they are and how they choose to interact with the products on – or offline. Retail leaders should prepare for a retail revolution with technology-enabled stores as a critical component of a shopper’s omnichannel ecosystem. Now is the time for retailers to ask this vital question – what is my organization doing to support our customers amidst this new and unprecedented retail environment?