L2 released today the second annual Intelligence Report on Omnichannel Retail in partnership with RichRelevance, ranking leaders and laggards among luxury, prestige and mass retailers. In an interview with L2, RichRelevance CMO Diane Kegley identifies trailblazers, regional differences, and what can luxury brands learn from mass retailers.
This is the second annual study L2 and RichRelevance have done on the topic of Omnichannel Retailers. What has changed since 2014?
In 2014, U.S. retailers were trailblazers in terms of adopting inventory visibility as an omnichannel priority, but U.K. retailers have rapidly caught up, with some even using inventory visibility as a means to personalize the customer interaction. UK high street retailer Monsoon Accessorize has empowered sales associates to use their tablets to locate stock (whether in the same shop, another store or e-commerce distribution center), order products in store for home delivery or offer alternative products or cross-sell relevant items in the event that a product is out of stock.
This study looks at international retailers as well as U.S. brands. What are some of the main differences between the countries?
The key difference between the US and Europe is the maturity or sophistication of “Click and Collect” in the EU – the “Flashes of Genius” called out in this year’s study center on European retailers such as Carrefour and John Lewis who have really taken the concept to new levels with a combination of technology and overall customer convenience. That’s not to say there aren’t new innovators in the US — Nordstrom, Sears and Kmart have introduced curbside pick up (which is great, given how Americans love their vehicles) but the experience doesn’t promote an opportunity for upsell in the way that the EU-based “Click and Collect” programs do.
One category that really surprised in this study was Big Box. What are some things other categories can learn from brands like Home Depot, Best Buy, and Walmart?
Omnichannel retail has fundamentally changed the way people shop, and big box retailers are following suit by meeting customer demands: switching to smaller format, urban stores and offering convenient fulfillment and payment options like Site to Store (or locker) and Pay with Cash. Walmart keeps the customer in charge of the experience, responding in a fast, agile manner to experiment with meeting customer needs and preferences (such as off-site pickup using a delivery truck parked in local business centers) then scaling rapidly once the experiment proves cost-effective and profitable. While most businesses are naturally customer-centric—we can learn from these big box retailers’ commitment to rapid innovation and thoughtful experimentation with an eye to scale.
If you had to name a winner or best-in-class example of an omnichannel retailer, who would you name? Why and in which areas do they excel?
Walgreens is a best-in-class omnichannel leader, particularly when it comes to leveraging the mobile channel to deeply engage customers. Its pharmacy app allow users to quickly fill prescriptions on the go, locate medicines in store and clip and save coupons on their rewards card; further, it allows customers to chat directly with a pharmacist. A link with FitBit allows users to log runs for Walgreens points they can redeem in store. By developing mobile features that acknowledge the way their customers shop and live, and that demonstrate genuine interest in their customers’ health–Walgreens has created a recipe for successful customer engagement centered on convenience.
How does RichRelevance help brands expand and strengthen their omnichannel capabilities?
In short, we help brands expand and strengthen their omnichannel capabilities by unifying customer and product data that is stored in disparate systems, and not readily accessible by multiple channels. For example, frequently the online system can’t access store systems. RichRelevance’s ability to unify multiple customer IDs from different channels, sessions and devices to create a single user profile through probabilistic matching is very powerful. We are also able to aggregate product catalogs to become the central data repository, accessible from any channel at any given time. Whether it’s product data from your website, mobile app, catalogs, kiosks, beacons, point-of-sale registers, we do the hard work of mapping and clean up to create a single catalog. This data cleansing, unification, routing and management enables a true 360-degree view of the customer that is the foundation for a best-in-class omnichannel experience.