Posted by: Chris Noble on March 11, 2021 in COVID-19, Stores as Markets, Thought Leadership, Unified Commerce
The Cost of Not Embracing an Omnichannel Strategy
You’ve probably heard the term “omnichannel” many times before, as it’s been a hot topic in retail for years. Today’s customers demand a seamless shopping experience both online and in store. Covid certainly accelerated much of these new behaviors and demands in customers, though the digital age was in place long before the pandemic hit.
Retailers must adapt to customers’ continually evolving behaviors and demands if they want to keep their doors open. New digital offerings like BOPIS, curbside pickup, endless aisle, same day delivery are becoming critical in retail today. Retailers who have provided effective digital offerings to their customers have been able to stay relevant during Covid because they were able to leverage the ecommerce side of their business.
No Omnichannel Strategy? There is a Cost
In recent news, The Arcadia Group, one of Britain’s biggest and most enduring multinational retailing companies, has recently collapsed. With roots dating back to 1903, this British retail giant saw several mergers and acquisitions over the past century. At its peak, the group had more than 2,500 outlets in the UK, as well as concessions in UK department stores and several hundred franchises operating internationally.
Today, only Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton brand names have survived this collapse. They were purchased by online retailers ASOS and Boohoo, who have opted to close the remaining brick and mortar stores. The Arcadia Group was hesitant to invest in an omnichannel strategy and failed to adapt and connect with the ever-changing consumer behaviors. While there were many factors impacting the end result, not employing an omnichannel strategy proved to be the final straw. Improving digital offerings is crucial for retailers nowadays, and those who have not done so have fallen behind, and in Arcadia’s case, closed their doors.
Although ASOS and Boohoo are successful online retailers, choosing to close the brick and mortar locations may not be in line with what the brand’s customers know and want. After all, 80% of Specialty Retail sales will still happen within the four walls of a store. Coincidentally, that is where most of the brand trust is built.
Demand for In-Person Shopping Remains High
The Consumer is alive and well, and the demand for in-person shopping remains high. Humans crave social contact and real-world experience, which is why it is important to have a good omnichannel strategy in place. Successful brands continue to invest in brick and mortar stores. Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announced continued expansion in brick and mortar stores citing a “big social element about shopping and just seeing and feeling the products again.”
StoreForce client, Fabletics, started off as an online business in 2013. After just two years in the online business, they recognized the need for customer interaction. They recognized that brand loyalty is acquired in physical stores, through experiences. In 2015 Fabletics opened up six brick and mortar locations in the US. Their physical store count has been growing ever since and as a direct result, so has their digital sales volume.
Another client, Soft Surroundings, also started their business online in 1999. At a time when many retailers were cutting back on store expansions, Soft Surroundings did just the opposite. They opened up their first brick and mortar store in 2005. In 2015, they opened an additional 10 stores and have been growing since. This is a testament to the importance of combining an online and in-store strategy to run a successful retail brand.
Digital Offerings in Retail Critical
Offering customers the convenience of online and digital services is paramount in retail today. At the same time, offering customers the real-world experience of brick and mortar shopping has always been, and will always be just as important. Combining the digital and physical worlds is crucial to delivering a great customer experience. After all, retail is all about the customer experience. Providing the customer with the ability to shop seamlessly on their own terms, through any channel they choose has now become table stakes. In the near future, the term ‘omnichannel’ itself will fade into obscurity as a quaint term that may have once defined this transition, and will be replaced by the simple term ‘Retail’.
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As a Managing Director of StoreForce – Europe, Chris knows that making data-driven decisions is key to employee engagement, generating sales, and increasing efficiency. In the last 20 years, Chris has worked exclusively with Specialty Retailers across Europe and the Middle East. Chris’ forte is technology, and he understands that bringing it to the sales floor is critical for retailers to maintain their positions. He believes that StoreForce not only does this but also allows retailers to experience sales growth and differentiate themselves through a better customer journey.
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