Ask L2: How can brands replicate in-store experiences online?

While true omnichannel remains elusive to most multi-channel retailers, forward-thinking brands recognize the distinction between online and in-store is disappearing.

As consumers increasingly turn to their phones and computers to research products, winning brands are creating on-site functionalities that mirror in-store shopping experiences to drive conversion online.

Here’s how several winning brands are closing the gap between in-store and online experiences:

PRODUCT FIT

Hugo Boss uses data to give consumers confidence in their purchase fit. Product pages include an interactive tool that asks a series of questions to suggest product dimensions based on information from shoppers with a similar profile. Users also are told what percentage of people with similar responses have returned the product.

Warby Parker understands the importance of seeing a product from multiple angles (as one would in a mirror) so it supplements traditional product imagery with dynamic images that rotate as a user moves their cursor over the image.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Chatbots allow brands to respond to consumer inquiries instantly, replicating the experience of talking to a sales associate, and can be tailored to the needs of a particular brand. Sephora’s chatbot sets up in-store appointments, Burberry’s helps select gifts, and Bud Light’s reminds people to stock up beers for sporting events.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s next generation customer service model forgoes the call center and instead leverages the expertise of in-store shopping assistants. Consumers are asked what their local store is and then given the option of contacting a local sales assistant by phone, email, text, or appointment.

Vodafone Spain’s “Virtual Store” offers a one-way video feed with customer service representatives to bridge the gap between over-the-phone, and in-store customer service. The company uses innovative techniques to simulate an in-store experience in its video chat, with representatives standing in front of a store-like backdrop, and able to showcase products over the link. As an incentive, users get a 20% discount for all orders placed through the virtual store.

 

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