Putting the Customer First: Omnichannel Retailing

Smart phones have created an entirely new way for consumers to approach shopping. There is no longer a clear distinction between e-commerce or in-store shopping, and in fact both in-store and online shopping complement each other. According to a study by MIT, 80% of in-store shoppers check prices online, and the web influences $1.1 trillion of in-store sales.

Many retailers are adjusting their commerce strategies to better align with consumer behavior, and are now implementing “omnichannel retailing”. Ominchannel retailing refers to a seamless shopping experience across all channels from in-store to online, mobile, and catalog by integrating services, technologies and processes.

The benefit for retailers? According to a recent article in Forbes, multichannel shoppers tend to spend more than “regular” shoppers.

Macy’s is one retailer recognized by the industry as a leader in omnichannel retailing. So what does omnichannel mean for Macy’s? The retailer explained its approach on its website:

With Omnichannel, customers can browse online, then come to Macy’s to lay on the mattress or try on the shoes before buying them in the store. These are customers who visit a store on their lunch hour, then make the purchase later at home or from their office, after they’ve thought about it for a while.

They find that the macys.com website is as exciting, engaging, efficient and technologically effective as any in retailing. Omnichannel means our stores, website and mobile devices are all working in unison – and seamlessly behind the scenes – to the benefit of the customer. We are driving store customers online and online customers into the stores. We are using mobile to feed both stores and online.

I happened to be in Macy’s this weekend and started taking note of their omnichannel marketing approach. A few examples include:

1. Free wireless Internet access in the store.

2. Signs in the dressing rooms driving you to order clothing online if you could not find the right size or color in store.

3. Shortly after my shopping trip to Macy’s, I received an email asking me to rate my in-store experience.

Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren shares that omnichannel is all about the customer. “The answer is it doesn’t matter (if people shop online or in store) and it shouldn’t matter. We should engage the customer in however he or she chooses to shop with us. I want to break those silos down internally in my own organization and make sure that we are doing one thing and that is putting the customer at the center of all of our decisions,” said Lundgren.

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