Digital touchpoints are so deeply integrated in the fabric of our new shopping experience, that it's common to hear people refer to the physical store as antiquated. While we may be attached to the speed and convenience offered by online purchases, we often miss the human touch that comes with face-to-face interactions. But what if we could have it all? Some brands have adopted a unique solution to this challenge; Omnichannel Retail.
Fusing physical and digital
An Omnichannel strategy fuses physical and digital experiences to create a truly integrated shopping experience. The strategy combines the emotional and tactical aspects of physical experiences along with the convenience, customization, and efficiency of digital ones. This integration provides customers with a seamless shopping experience across multiple platforms and channels.
The success of an Omnichannel strategy can be attributed to three crucial elements: Immediacy, Immersion, and Interaction. Let’s explore these:
Immediacy – ensures customers have access to information and can complete transactions instantly, without having to wait or jump through multiple hoops. This provides the convenience and speed that customers have come to expect in our right-here-right-now world.
Immersion – builds opportunities to be fully engaged in the experience, with a seamless transition between physical and digital. This creates a positive and memorable experience for customers.
Interaction – allows for a multi-sensory experience, allowing customers to actively engage, rather than being passive observers. This fosters a deeper emotional connection to the brand.
To be truly successful, brands must combine components from the digital retail experience, like immediacy and immersion, with the interaction of people and product in a physical experience.
Brands leading the charge
Retailers have rapidly adopted Omnichannel strategies, using technology for interactive in-store experiences and seamless online-to-offline transitions. This has allowed brands to gather first party customer data and create a consistent experience from discovery to post-purchase. The following brands have demonstrated leading strategies in the space and are examples of the impact Omnichannel can have on both the customer and the business.
Unsurprisingly, Nike is a pioneer in Omnichannel, renowned for its superior customer experience and prompt adoption of new technology. This is why they are among some of the first companies to adopt these strategies in-store. Nike has a range of Omnichannel retail concepts including Nike House of Innovation, Nike Live, Nike Rise, and Nike Style. Each store offers unique features for their hyper-connected consumers, heavily driven by their mobile presence. What’s particularly unique is Nike’s focus on driving NikePlus sign ups, rather than driving sales in these physical locations. In compelling research released by Nike, they found that NikePlus members spend a staggering three times more on Nike.com than regular customers. In their strategy, stores act as conversion points, creating NikePlus fans who shop more frequently, are more engaged, and ultimately spend more money.
Locally informed, data-driven experiences: Through NikePlus member data, Nike can understand members' shopping habits and product preferences, offering up convenient and customized experiences. The Speed Shop in the House of Innovation in NYC is a perfect example of how Nike is leveraging local data. When arriving on the Speed Shop floor, customers are met with a wall featuring twelve of New York’s favourite Nike products. Each number corresponds to an area on the floor that features that product, giving customers a more local and personalized experience. Nike also uses sales information from other parts of the store to curate a ‘trending now’ experience. This makes the retail space more fluid, adapting to changing customer behaviour in a similar way that a website does.
Your phone as a shopping companion: Many of us have experienced the situation of searching for a particular piece of clothing that a mannequin was wearing, all while juggling the other pieces draped over our arm. Nike’s solution fits in your pocket. Customers can use the Nike app to scan the QR codes placed beside mannequins to view product information and availability. But it doesn’t stop there. Customers can also add the items to a virtual try-on list where they’re sent directly to a fitting room. While trying on the clothing, customers can simply click a button to request a different size or product. Customers can even use the app to skip the queues and make instant purchases instead. The Nike app has been such a successful and integral piece of their physical locations that at the House of Innovation in Shanghai, a new member downloads the app every two minutes.
In 2020, Burberry opened a new concept store in the tech heavy city of Shenzhen, China. Dubbed as their first ever “social retail” store, the location provides a space of exploration and entertainment for luxury customers. The store takes interactions from social media and brings them into the physical retail environment, allowing customers to interact with the brand in new and exciting ways. Burberry incorporated WeChat into its strategy, noting a growing trend of consumers sharing their shopping experiences through social channels. By leveraging this trend, the brand aimed to tap into the approximately 80% of consumers who utilize digital touchpoints prior to making a purchase.
Playful in-store gamification: Burberry has tapped into new opportunities by appealing to a younger generation of luxury consumers through the integration of WeChat into their in-store experience. Customers start their journey with an egg, watch it hatch into a fawn, then unlock new characters and outfits as they engage in-store and online with the brand. Customers can earn rewards through actions like scanning items in store, making purchases, and “liking” Burberry on social media. Burberry calls these rewards ‘social currency’. The more the customer interacts with the brand, the more social currency they earn, eventually unlocking new and coveted experiences.
Unlocking new experiences through social currency: Burberry is known for its iconic trench coat. The "Trench Experience" offers customers with high social currency an engaging brand narrative experience centered around this Burberry staple. During the Trench Experience, customers start with a personal Burberry trench coat fitting and styling consultation, then they're transported to a nature-inspired room with 360-degree projections. This interactive space allows customers to engage with unique content through body gestures. The hope is that users will share their experiences on WeChat, generating social media impressions and valuable data for the brand, and positioning Burberry as an innovator among Chinese consumers, who account for about 40% of its sales.
Located in Shinjuku, Japan, the largest Lush store in Asia offers a shopping experience that is both immersive and unique. The store spans four levels, featuring a vast array of Lush offerings. But, what truly sets it apart from other stores is its packaging-free products. This sustainable approach is achieved through the Lush Lens app, which is integrated into the store's experiences. By using the app, customers can learn about the products and how best to use them. This allows Lush to reduce their ecological footprint, which reflects their commitment to reduce waste and raise environmental awareness. Lush Shinjuku showcases the brand's innovation in technology and introduces novel shopping experiences for customers, showcasing the possible future of retail spaces.
AI powered “smart retail”: In this new concept, Lush has foregone traditional product packaging for an unconventional solution, scanning products with the Lush Lens app. Customers use their camera to focus on a product, then receive product information, video demonstrations, and the option to make a purchase. This takes away employees' need to demonstrate products in store, significantly reducing the stores water usage and waste from product and demonstration supplies. Lush Harajuku was the first store to try this concept, resulting in the store's water usage dropping from 4000 cubic metres of water per year, to just 140. The Lush Lens also grants Lush the capability of providing 24/7 product information, even when its physical stores are closed, thanks to its shoppable window. Anyone passing by can enjoy the convenience of scanning to shop at any time.
19 Crimes has revolutionized the wine industry by reimagining the wine brand concept. The name 19 Crimes refers to the number of felonies used to exile convicts from Britain to Australia back in the 18th century. With the understanding that many people choose wine based on the appearance of its label rather than its taste, 19 Crimes needed to find a way to stand out among the many shelves of wine brands. Their solution was to use the label as a window into the convicts' story. The brand has had many innovations but has achieved the greatest success by integrating physical and digital elements.
Storytelling, from shelf to screen: Once customers download the Living Wine Labels app, they can simply point their phone at the wine bottle to watch the convict come to life. As the label transforms into a multimedia experience, the convicts start to move around and recount their story. Each convict is a real historical figure, found guilty of one of the 19 crimes punishable by exile. The crime they committed is also included on the bottle’s cork, leading the customers to read more on the 19 Crimes website. This innovative idea drastically increased 19 Crimes brand awareness and customer engagement, and contributed to a significant increase in sales. In just 18 months, they saw sales increase by nearly 500 percent.
With a growing footprint of flagship retail spaces around the world, Adidas has also invested heavily in creating immersive spaces to drive deeper customer engagement. Working with the Adidas Futures Group, our team at Engine Digital helped the apparel brand bring digital in-store through their Run Genie pilot program.
Run Genie was initially created with the vision to use data to drive a richer customer experience, while helping shoppers find the right shoe for their running style.
First party data through immersive shopping: The Futures Group had created the Run Genie pod, a small device that when attached to the top of a shoe, was capable of collecting data points based on a customer’s foot connected with the ground while running. Common language to an advanced runner, most consumers aren't sure if they pronate or supinate, and therefore are missing key information in selecting the most optimal shoe. Rune Genie intended to change that, by sending data from the pod into an iPad app, allowing store staff to help guide a customer towards a shortlist of selected running shoes, removing the guesswork and creating a more informed shopper.
Run Genie would be rolled out in key stores around the world as a pilot, engaging customers in a short process that on average, would lead to a 40% purchase rate.
The case for bringing digital experiences in store
In today's rapidly changing retail landscape, it's essential for brands to remain competitive by offering outstanding experiences to their customers. Whether you’re in the business of selling running shoes or bath bombs, customers want options and the freedom to shop how they want, when they want. They’re used to the right-here-right-now realities of digital and to be successful, brands have to meet those expectations. That means fully integrating physical and digital channels across the customer journey. If implemented successfully, Omnichannel can drive sales, increase customer engagement and retention, and improve your customer experience.
With so many positive aspects and brands already carving the way, it’s inevitable that Omnichannel will play an increasing role in the future of retail experiences.
If you’re looking for ways to bring digital into your retail environment, to create a more engaged customer experience that spans both online and offline, reach out to us to see how we can help.