Omnichannel is creating an experience where you can have it your way
By Chris H. Petersen
All too often we see the world through the lens of where we live, in my case the United States. I'm currently on a journey across Western Europe. It's always and an eye opening experience to be able to visit retail stores in different countries. On my recent store visits this past week, it became clear that omnichannel retailing is emerging, but still in flux with many pilots underway. Based upon my store visits, it became clear that there are 3 very distinct ways to tell if a retail store is executing "omnichannel". More importantly, when you talk with customers, they point out these particular omnichannel dimensions as key differentiators of why they prefer a particular retailer, and even a specific store location.
Why this is important: Today's omnichannel consumers are very clear about they want … they want it their way! Retailers who can tangibly provide integrated omnichannel engagement attract customers looking for a better experience.
What do customers really want … to have it their way!
Since the omnichannel customer journey typically begins online, most traditional bricks and mortar stores are rapidly building an online presence. But, the essence of omnichannel for today's consumer is both choice and convenience. Not one or the other, but an integrated experience, where they can choose how to have it their way, on any given day.
Omnichannel customers are looking for a seamless experience, across channels and devices. They desire the ability to shop online with options to ship to home, or "click and collect" in "their store". Likewise, while standing in the store aisle, they want a connected experience online. Bottom line: omnichannel is NOT store + online … it is "ominus" experience available simultaneously across location, time and device.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
Across tech retailers, there are increasing signs of engaging customers in new ways. Stores now have many more digital demo opportunities where you can test before you buy. FNAC has opened a new "Connected Store" focused on connected lifestyle solutions, in a much smaller footprint that is a fraction of a traditional FNAC store.
FNAC's new small footprint store focused on connected devices and solutions.
A number of the retailers I visited have specific elements and displays focused on ways to engage customers. But, what the customer really wants is for it to "all come together" in ways that enhance their overall experience and choice, both inside and outside the physical store. For the omnichannel consumer, it is not store or online; it is the whole of the experience and ease of use where ever they decide to shop and purchase today.
3 Surefire signals of omnichannel engagement and experience in store
No offense to other European retailers. One can only visit so many stores and you can easily miss brilliant local store executions. One retailer that really stood out this past week was Boulanger Opera store in France.
I simply wanted to share and showcase this specific store as a real live case study with clear examples of integrated omnichannel execution and engagement, and how three critical components create a connected relationship beyond the physical store.
1. Omnichannel begins … and continues online
A fundamental foundation of omnichannel is that most shoppers start their journey online. Almost all retailers are aggressively building their online selling presence. What is interesting is that Boulanger's transcends their product offerings to promote omnichannel to their customers. Below is a Boluanger webpage screen:
Boulanger webpage communicating consumer choice, 1 Hour “Click & Collect”
Main Headline at top: Boulanger, Is Committed to You!
Headline by Clock: Collection in 1 Hour – Free, Rapid, Simple
Highlighted Orange Tab: Collect in 1 Hour from the Store
Sign #1 – Communication of omnichannel options online, and customers in fact using smartphones to check the retailer website while standing in the store.
2. Omnichannel journey continues in store
A fundamental foundation of omnichannel is digital transformation. Retailers have opened up Wi-Fi in stores. Some have some digital components to product displays and demos. Very few retailers strategically use digital to engage consumers AND encourage them to interact on their channel of choice. In the Boulanger Opera store, a tablet was strategically placed near the entrance. Below is a screen shot of the tablet clearly indicating alternatives for customers:
Tablet screen near entrance of Boulanger Opera Store in France.
It was very interesting to see the use of a tablet to communicate the customers' choices, and ask which options they prefer.
Headline: Signal or notify us of your presence and reason for visit
Orange Bar: Collect from Boulanger
Black Bar: Collect from Webdistrib.com (a related website)
Blue Bar: Collect Service / Repairs
What fascinated me about this tablet is that it a) again communicates the consumer options for purchase as well as service, and b) it is a way to "sign in" to notify Boulanger that you are there for a specific service.
Sign #2 – Consistent communicate of customer options instore, with convenient ways to "sign in" to notify the store of your presence and requested service.
3. De pièce de résistance – The Click and Collect Center in store
A picture is literally worth more than a 1,000 words. The photo below is of the "Click and Collect" area located right in the front of the Boulanger store. It integrates pickup purchases from the website, as well as services and repairs. It is the tangible store deliver on the promise of the website for 1 hour pick in store.
More importantly, it is front, center, and convenient. Even better yet, you will notice the TV screen upper left which shows your name and purpose from signing in. Plus, you will notice that the click and collect area is also stocked with the typically needed accessories like cables, connectors, protection, etc.
Sign #3 – Click and collect is the “hub” of omnichannel integration and execution in store … it needs to be front and center, convenient, easy, and efficient. It must deliver on the omnichannel promise … in this case, Boulangers 1 hour commitment to be able to pick up in store.
In omnichannel … the "whole" is greater than the sum of individual parts
There are a number of retailers executing pieces of omnichannel online, and in stores. The Boulanger Opera store is one of the best examples I've seen which integrates website, digital communication and physical store omnichannel click and collect solutions.
Boulanger Opera store clearly has the 3 critical components that signal customers can "have it their way" … and it consistently invites and engages them to consider their options where ever they are. Even more importantly, the staff do it with a smile!
- Photos Courtesy of Adam Simon and Chris Petersen