The future of retail appears increasingly uncertain. With physical sales plunging on e-commerce growth, retailers are looking to digital as a life preserver. However, barely a third of brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail have established tangible omnichannel capabilities such as in-store pickup. As the ecosystem evolves, the top brands will leverage new discovery channels and digital tactics to stay ahead of the crowd.

Top 10 Ranking
  1. Sephora
    Digital IQ: 144

The Index leader achieves its Genius status thanks to steady innovation in mobile. “Sephora to Go” app ranks among the top 25 offerings in the App Store’s Shopping category, integrating tools such as “Virtual Lipstick Assistant” as well as notifications and the brand’s reward program. Those interactive tools not only let users play with new makeup trends and techniques, but also encourage commerce and social sharing: links to product pages are provided throughout the process, and users are invited to share their digital transformations on social media.

  1. Victoria’s Secret
    Digital IQ: 141

In Q1 2016, Victoria’s Secret averaged over 250,000 interactions per post on Instagram, capturing over a fifth of Index engagement. The retailer was also among the earliest adopters of Snapchat in the industry, using the platform to experiment with various content types such as contests. As part of its annual Valentine’s Day promotion, Victoria’s Secret created a #DIYPantyContest where users could screenshot a pair of underwear, doodle on them using the Snapchat interface, and send their submission back to Victoria’s Secret for a chance to win a pair of Valentine’s Day-themed intimates.

  1. Old Navy
    Digital IQ: 136

By generating nearly three times the ad impressions and 1.5 times the number of YouTube video views as its sister brands combined, Old Navy builds upon shared competences of the infrastructure. While most broad-spectrum Apparel & Accessories brands are overshadowed by Macy’s and Nordstrom, Old Navy is able to optimize its limited visibility by also focusing on less competitive sub-categories such as Swimwear, Accessories, Men’s Clothing, and Plus-Size Clothing.

Search real estate
  1. Crate & Barrel
    Digital IQ: 134

Through seamless integration of inventory status, preferred store, and pickup options, the brand earns a high Gifted ranking. The “Room We Love” site feature lets users shop by room type, creating an e-commerce extension of traditional catalog collateral.

  1. ULTA
    Digital IQ: 134

As omnichannel capabilities become a critical point of differentiation, brands are becoming more creative in their push-to-store tactics. ULTA invites online shoppers to visit its in-store salons for hair cut and color treatments, facials, eyebrow grooming, makeup application, and nail services. After visiting the salon, customers receive at-home styling tips that promote relevant ULTA products.

  1. Kate Spade
    Digital IQ: 131

Only a third of Index brands saw branded year-over-year search growth above 15%. Kate Spade is one of those brands. The retailer saw continued gains in digital marketing, including tactical engagement in PLAs. Moreover, campaign activities outside the holiday season extend the historical strength of the brand site and social media strategy.

PLAs by keyword
  1. Pottery Barn
    Digital IQ: 128

The brand’s limited omnichannel capabilities relative to its competitors are overshadowed by its traffic statistics, as well as its impressive share of paid media within the Home category. Additionally, Pottery Barn achieves dominance in search visibility across both branded and category keywords.

  1. IKEA
    Digital IQ: 126

Investments in digital planning tools and “IKEA Family” in-home consultations set a standard across the retail category for innovation. Product pages feature detailed inventory prognoses and in-store maps, creating an online browsing experience conducive to easy in-store pickup: shoppers can save these details online and print them out at a participating IKEA location.

  1. Williams-Sonoma
    Digital IQ: 125

Specialty Retail brands often struggle to strike a balance between the online and brick-and-mortar experiences they provide. Williams-Sonoma’s investments in an integrated cross-channel experience include push-to-store tactics and comprehensive content marketing—helping the brand drive customer acquisitions, web traffic, and conversions.

  1. American Eagle Outfitters
    Digital IQ: 124

Continuing the omnichannel trend, the brand aggressively promotes its “Try & Buy” program. Meanwhile, the #AEOStyle hashtag provides a continuous flow of UGC content that can be reused outside social channels.

  1. Coach
    Digital IQ: 124

Most of Coach’s retail peers, especially in Apparel, are now pursuing omnichannel functionalities that the brand has offered for a considerable time. Those features include local inventory status, in-store pickup functionality, and e-gifting services.

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