Holiday store traffic has been halved since 2010, and shoppers visit on average just three stores in a trip to the mall vs. five in 2007. Retailers are now waking up to the need for digital investments to inspire store visits and online purchases. L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail assesses the digital performance of 82 specialty retail brands in the U.S. market.
These digital winners consistently integrate online and offline channels, providing consumers with real-time local inventory data. They use brand communications to drive traffic to their retail footprint, rather than as a stand-alone arm.
Digital IQ: 141
Sephora’s agile mobile site provides a channel-agnostic customer experience, with instant access to Beauty Insider account, purchase history, and “Loves” wish list. The Genius brand is one of two retailers that have integrated their loyalty program with Passbook. Product pages are sortable by customer ratings and reviews, and provide the opportunity for viewers to engage in product Q&As, explore brand-specific boutiques and access tutorial videos. A competitive SEO strategy secures the highest organic visibility across non-branded terms in the Beauty category.
Digital IQ: 134
The Stylish Spaces room gallery links to e-commerce and the augmented reality app gives users a preview of IKEA furniture in their homes. It effectively maintained its “overachiever” status in Facebook engagement with consistent sponsored posts, adapting to Facebook’s move to a pay-to-pay platform.
3. American Eagle
Digital IQ: 133
American Eagle has partnered with close to 80 bloggers in its “Bloggers do it Better” project. It is one of two brands in L2’s Specialty Retail Index to partner with Apple Pay, and its YouTube channel is among the top 10 most-viewed in the study.
4. Free People
Digital IQ: 132
Free People’s dedication to user-generated content sets it apart from the pack. The thriving “FPMe” user community has more than 50,000 images, placed strategically on product pages throughout the site. Free people released the September Catalog: #FPSelfieEdition, a look-book sourced entirely from the brand’s customers and featured Bloggprominently on the home page.
Digital IQ: 129
Gap has debuted a unified cart feature spanning sister brands and ability to view in-store inventory online and reserve items.
6. Urban Outfitters
Digital IQ: 128
While focused on improving the mobile integration of its loyalty program My UO, Urban Outfitters maintains its position as one of the best retail brands on social media. It is among the top ten brands with the most Twitter followers, and posts 25.6 times a week on Facebook.
7. Victoria’s Secret
Digital IQ: 128
An all-around social media star, Victoria’s Secret boasts 80 million views on its YouTube channel, topping any other brand in the Specialty Retail Index. It has a strong hold on search, appearing on first-page results of 9% of non-brand apparel keyword searches. The brand excels in fulfillment by providing delivery estimates for all shipping options.
Digital IQ: 125
Williams-Sonoma boasts a best-in-class email program. While many specialty retailers send a high quantity of emails, Williams Sonoma improves open and click-through rates with personalization and triggered communication. Thank you notes are sent after extended site visits, followed by recommendations based on browsing history.
9. Ralph Lauren
Digital IQ: 123
In addition to a dual-investment strategy balancing a retail and digital, Ralph Lauren has diversified its marketing efforts. It is one of the early advertisers on Instagram and integrates lifestyle content from RL Magazine into its promotions. The Timely debut of the Polo Tech Shirt at the U.S. Open drew positive attention to the brand.
Digital IQ: 122
This teen retailer has doubled-down on digital to fuel growth. It has one of the best in-store functionalities in the Index and am on-point Instagram strategy.
10. Hollister (Tie)
Digital IQ: 122
Abercrombie’s sister brand nailed black Friday with the “Shirtless Friday Campaign.” Doors opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving to beach-like stores where shoppers could take photos with shirtless employees outfitted as lifeguards. Hollister is stepping up its fulfillment efforts as well; it is one of nine brands in the L2 Index to partner with ShopRunner to provide expedited shipping to consumers at a lower cost.