Ninety-five percent of retailers worldwide report that multichannel retail strategies are “very important” or of “some importance” to building a strong brand community. In our new Intelligence Report: Multichannel Retail, which assessed the multichannel performance of 79 prestige retailers and brands over the past year, Lululemon emerged as the best at using digital to create strong communities–with its retail locations acting as local hubs. For each of its more than 200 stores (in eight countries), Lululemon brings together thousands of like-interested people who live near each other for a wide variety of health and fitness-related activities. They achieve this through their site, which provides up-to-date online community calendars (see below), ‘store ambassador’ bios, links to proximate wellness resources, and photo galleries. Customers are encouraged to connect with their local retail location and neighboring Lululemon shoppers through store-level social media accounts and local email lists.

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There are others brands using digital toward similar goals, and one of these is Connecticut-based furniture store Ethan Allen. By posting bios, photos, and contact information for each member of every location’s design team, Ethan Allen offers prospective customers the option to contact their professionals directly to set up a personal appointment. Another brand that stood out was Urban Outfitters, whose “Now Playing in Store” music playlists are featured on both its mobile and site store locator pages. Shoppers are shown links to iTunes and Spotify, where they can download/stream the playlists, encouraging them to listen to the songs on their way to their nearest UO location.

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