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Shop and Browse Everywhere in the Age of the Omni-Channel

multi channel retail

Retailers are experimenting with alternative commerce experiences to make the shopping journey easier and provide it across all channels, from brick and mortar to online to mobile and beyond. The most successful retailers unite their messaging and media across channels, taking a “channel-less” approach to interacting with the consumer, and enabling commerce wherever the consumer is. Here are a few ways retail is embracing ways to make browsing and shopping possible everywhere.

Bring the store to the people
To be able to shop anywhere, you need a cash register everywhere: the shopping cart on a mobile device, the ‘Buy’ button on Facebook, or the online site within a site. During the 2014 holiday season, Amazon rolled out a holiday marketing campaign throughout the NYC subway system, targeting commuters with brand messaging and holiday promotions through touch-screen kiosks set-up in subway stations. Early in 2015, they opened their first on-campus pick-up location for students at Purdue University. The brick and mortar location is the first staffed Amazon storefront where customers can pick-up online orders and drop-off returns.

Shoppable content, online and off
Providing the ability to shop everywhere also means providing the ability to browse everywhere, through a Tweet, a blog post, or an online lookbook. Websites like Suitsupply, Anthropologie, French Connection, are enabling this kind of e-commerce through stylishly laid out rich content in the form of lookbooks, online catalogues and magazines, blogs, and more.
In 2013, Kate Spade debuted “shoppable windows” where passerby could interact with touch-screen windows, browse clothing colors, sizes, and styles, and order the desired products right on the glass.

Mobile in-store checkout
In 2011, Apple revolutionized in-store checkout by offering shoppers a way to check themselves out using their smart phones. I was recently shopping at a Nordstrom Rack, and there was a sales kiosk set-up in the women’s department with an employee, her iPhone, and a receipt printer. Right there in the middle of several racks of jeans, I returned one item and bought a couple new ones, without waiting in line or even having to walk more than a handful of steps. Other companies like URBN, DSW Shoe Warehouse, and more have also added mobile checkout options in-store to streamline the process.

GameStop recently announced a new program using Microsoft’s cloud services to enable mobile shopping in their brick and mortar stores. The system enables shoppers to browse and add items from their smart phones to their mobile shopping carts, and then have a store associate collect those items and have them ready at check-out in-store.

Turning traditional advertising avenues into sales channels
In 2014, H&M piloted a program where consumers with internet-connected Samsung smart TV’s could purchase a pair of briefs shown on David Beckham, with the simple click of a remote during television advertisements. Burberry has simulcast their fashion shows around the world, and enabled pre-sale options -- thereby giving avid shoppers exclusive access to coveted new products, while simultaneously gaining valuable insights into popular styles in the coming year. Delivery Agent, an interactive commerce company, turned the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show into a shoppable event, enabling viewers to purchase through smart TV’s, Twitter, and more.

A Store Within a Store - brands and retailers working together
This cross-channel retail world also offers new and innovative ways for brands and retailers to work together. The Samsung and Best Buy partnership is one of the most notable to date. When you visit a Best Buy store, you’re now able to shop a Samsung “store within a store,” where you can browse Samsung products in a space that adheres to their own brand guidelines, but that lives within the confines of a physical Best Buy location. The same goes for BestBuy.com, where you can peruse a similarly branded “Samsung Brand Page.” The benefit for Best Buy is increased foot (or site) traffic, and rich content to help shoppers make the right purchase, and for Samsumg, a new sales channel for purchasing and product discovery that comes with brand and messaging control.

Social sites integrating commerce
Pinterest recently announced its plans to add a ‘Buy’ button to its website, which will allow users to purchase without ever leaving Pinterest. Facebook and Twitter already have on-site and in-app purchasing capabilities. Site browsers will be able to browse and buy without navigating away, enabling a new platform for social commerce, and undeniably a channel with untapped potential for retailers.

The message here is clear: Diversify your channel strategy, and distribute your commerce. Meet the consumer where it’s impossible for them to miss you, and the increased sales will reflect the integrated and innovative approach.

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