How the world’s biggest brands are using omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel has endured as a marketing buzzword for years – which can be attributed to the constant need to adapt retail platforms (traditional and digital) to meet and surpass growing customer expectations.

The core focus of omnichannel marketing is the customer experience. But it’s a tall task, considering consumers and trends can be unpredictable.

That prompts the question: “What is omnichannel?”

It’s the evolution of the multi-channel platform – like having a website, mobile app, social media accounts, and physical stores. Omnichannel expands upon this approach by integrating and aligning these channels to improve the customer experience. In other words, it combines offline and online components of retail – like browsing, payments, and customer service. Omnichannel creates consistency, reduces friction during the purchasing process, and provides the customer with a seamless experience.

Omnichannel is transforming retail and the way we shop by playing to the tendencies and preferences of consumers. Did you know that 80% of customers use their phone during in-store shopping experiences? Therefore, one way to provide an omnichannel experience would be to sync your mobile app’s capabilities with your physical store to empower customers with the ability to seamlessly check product availability or discounts.

Perhaps a better question is, “How are businesses implementing omnichannel today?”

Here are four real-world examples of successful omnichannel retail approaches in which companies integrate their channels to improve the customer experience.

Nike

Nike has revitalized its platform by partnering with Hero, a retail technology company. Founded in 2015, Hero partners with global retailers like Nike to evolve traditional stores into smart stores. Their technology connects in-store associates with customers on digital platforms, providing a deeper, richer customer experience. For instance, online shoppers can directly communicate with associates via video and/or chat to get informed opinions on size, colors, inventory, and recommendations.

This approach accommodates each customer’s unique preferences – it breaks down the barrier between online and offline shopping, which rolls up into the concept of omnichannel retail.

It’s worth acknowledging that this strategy requires additional training and knowledgeable store associates. But that upfront investment can certainly pay dividends down the road.

Nike’s latest earnings report can attest to that – Nike’s first quarter revenue was up 7% year-over-year. According to Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Andy Campion, “Our targeted strategic investments are accelerating Nike’s digital transformation and extending our competitive advantage.”

The company’s digital sales were up 42% year-over-year as well.

Not bad, Nike. Not bad at all.

Oasis

Based out of the United Kingdom, Oasis is a fashion retailer that’s a prime example of successfully integrated digital and physical channels.

Starting with the in-store experience, Oasis sales associates are equipped with tablets that not only serve as immediate, accurate, and current sources of product information – such as price, inventory, discounts – but also as a time-conscious, convenient checkout option. In the event a product is out-of-stock, customers can place an order right there in the store – alleviating a common friction point that can otherwise lead to lost sales.

Oasis also adds its mobile app and Instagram platform into the mix. Oasis’s Instagram account uses interactive content with links to products featured in each post, which naturally bridges followers to the company’s website.

Starbucks

Chances are, if you’re a frequent patron of Starbucks, you’re quite familiar with their rewards app. Even if you don’t, you probably know someone who does.

It’s one of the top omnichannel experiences in the market – for a variety of reasons. The app alleviates standard pain points – like waiting in line or paying with a credit card – and enhances the overall customer experience with rewards and a simple, easy-to-use mobile interface.

Don’t want to wait in line? You can order ahead (and pay) via the app – letting you grab and go once you get to the store. Don’t have your wallet? Don’t need it – you can load your credit card into the app for easy payment. You can also immediately reload your balance at the touch of a button.

Perhaps most importantly, the rewards app is free – and progress towards your next reward is clearly illustrated and trackable.

Timberland

Have you ever wondered how tap and go devices work – like Apple Pay? The technology behind touch and go functionality is called near-field communication software.

Timberland has enhanced its brick-and-mortar stores by implementing this software to empower customers with the ability to use store-provided tablets to check product information throughout Timberland’s stores. For customers who prefer to shop independently – without the assistance of a store associate – this feature is ideal. Further, the software provides personalized product suggestions as customers continue to browse.

Ultimately, this creates a very custom-tailored shopping experience and generates very useful data about consumer preferences and high/low engaging products.