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L2’s 2015 Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail finds a challenging environment with a few brands capturing a greater share of the spoils. Foot traffic is declining (by 2.7%) while sales have increased by 4.7%, meaning brands must rely on incentivizing purchases and store visits through digital. These investments are often costly, widening the gap between have and have-not brands.

This year, fast fashion brands seem to be among the digitally savvy set in Specialty Retail. While the brands seem close to evenly split between Gifted and Average, the Gifted brands fill the ranks close to the top. (Old Navy is ranked No. 4, American Eagle No. 5, Gap and H&M tied at No. 6, and Forever 21 No. 12.) These brands have implemented innovations in social and omnichannel, leveraging their millennial consumers’ responsiveness to new things. A few examples:

Aeropostale reminds users of their eligibility for free shipping when sending abandoned cart emails. The brand also stands out from the crowd on Twitter with a visual strategy. Thirty-two percent of @aeropostale’s top 100 tweets by overall interactions feature at least one Vine star.

Zara’s social strategy is solid, yet not hitting out of the ballpark. It has high reach – especially relative to few posts – and a low engagement compared to social stars like Urban Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret. Omnichannel, however, is where Zara shines. It is one of four brands in the Specialty Retail Index offering both Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store and in-store availability search.

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Old Navy has successfully leveraged millennials’ love of video. Videos starring brand ambassador Julia Louis-Dreyfus generated 14+ million views on YouTube with an aggressive paid advertising on mobile and desktop.

GAP is a leader in web advertising adding geolocal components to its SEM strategy, SMS alerts, and email marketing efforts. Sister brand Banana Republic has made its reserve in-store feature visible, evidence that it has made omnichannel a priority.

Uniqlo has is leading in omnichannel as well, with a revamped mobile site which offers options for online purchases and in-store pickup.

American Eagle has boosted app popularity by offering app-specific features. The test pilot of “Reserve, Try & Buy” signals the steady expansion of omnichannel capabilities in tandem with reduced retail footprint.

For more on how Specialty Retail brands are leveraging digital, download a copy of L2’sDigital IQ Index: Specialty Retail.

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