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Check This Out: Fast Retailing lets customers buy directly from ads

BY CSA STAFF

Fast Retailing Co.’s Comptoir des Cotonniers division has launched “Fast Shopping,” which allows European shoppers to purchase items in 20 seconds on their mobile devices via an application from Powa Technologies, London. Shoppers using the PowaTag app can scan items they see on ads in various places to make the purchase and with one click, complete the transaction and have the goods delivered to their home within 48 hours. Comptoir has placed some 10,000 ad supports for the new service, ranging from promotions on bus shelters to ads in fashion magazines and on cafe tables. About 30 SKUs are available in the first wave.

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Omnichannel Commerce — How it Really Works, Where it’s Going

BY CSA STAFF

Every few years, a new term enters the retail IT industry lexicon and takes firm root, even though nobody can provide an actual, definitive meaning. The latest phrase to capture the imagination of retail technology practitioners without a standard, widely accepted definition is “omnichannel commerce.” While it is generally understood that omnichannel commerce is the practice of serving customers across all available physical and digital channels, the details are still vague.

Lonnie Mayne, president of Salt Lake City-based InMoment, a cloud-based customer experience optimization platform provider that was formed from the merger of Mindshare Technologies and Empathica, recently shared some insights with Chain Store Age on the true meaning of omnichannel commerce. Mayne offered concise explanations of exactly how different channels fit in to the omnichannel paradigm and how retailers can most effectively engage with consumers using an omnichannel strategy.

A lot of industry experts talk about “omnichannel commerce” — what does this term actually mean?

Our clients are experiencing and talking about “omnichannel” in two ways. The first relates to the realities of how their customers are interacting with brands. Technology allows customers to research, window shop, get coupons, make purchases, ask questions, provide feedback and refer a friend, all without stepping one foot inside a store.

The second component of omnichannel is understanding and embracing all possible touchpoints as opportunities to connect with customers, and then developing comprehensive programs to ensure a positive and consistent customer experience across all channels.

How do the online and social channels fit into the omnichannel model?

Online and social channels allow customers access to your brand 24/7. These interactions can be direct: for example, online shopping or browsing your Facebook page for special offers. They can also be indirect, such as customers posting about your brand on their own social media pages. These round-the-clock conversations will happen, and it’s up to each brand to decide how to engage.

Successful brands will create policies and dedicate well-trained and trusted personnel who can nurture these relationships in a way that is consistent with their other experiences.

Where do mobile devices fit into the model?

Mobile devices provide interesting opportunities — and challenges. Consumers can be in-store and at the same time, check your competitors’ pricing. Technologies such as iBeacons, which use geo-location to identify and customize messages to individual consumers, are on the horizon. Smart brands will stay informed on the newest tools, and choose only the ones that best fit their individual situations.

Used wisely, these technologies have the potential to deepen relationships and dramatically increase loyalty. However, privacy issues, poorly supported solutions, and the question of how to serve the full range of customers, from the most loyal to the potential, equally well, all deserve close attention.

How about physical stores?

Personally, I love the convenience technology provides. But after more than 20 years of helping companies build people-centered organizations, I firmly believe that human interaction will never be replaced. Far from being diminished, the in-person experience will continue to become even more critical in both differentiating and reinforcing your brand promise.

What types of solutions does InMoment offer to help retailers effectively perform omnichannel commerce?

InMoment specializes in collecting experience data across all channels, surfacing insights, and then getting these insights to the right people at the right time. While simple scores and transactional data can tell you the “what” — for example, if a customer rated their experience a three out of 10 and spent $15.75 on their last visit; experience data tells you the “why” — such as if the clothing racks were unorganized and the dressing room was poorly lit, but the sales associate was friendly and really helpful.

These types of detailed insights gleaned from across the omnichannel environment can help you better understand the specific points at which the brand experience is consistently applied, and where you need to improve.

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Slam Dunk

BY Dan Berthiaume

Athletic footwear retailer The Finish Line offers a highly seasonal assortment. When spring products started coming in from the company’s brand partners in January 2014, the chain decided to build upon its ongoing omnichannel strategy to create an experience to help boost spring customer traffic and sales.

Looking at spring athletic events that would appeal to young male consumers, Finish Line decided that the “March Madness” NCAA college basketball tournament was an ideal choice, one with built-in appeal to a big segment of the company’s customer base.

“We took a holistic approach to our ‘March Madness’ product assortment,” said Danielle Quatrochi, VP digital for Finish Line, Indianapolis, which operates approximately 880 U.S. stores, including more than 220 branded in-store shops in Macy’s locations nationwide. “It’s not just about basketball, but a cultural opportunity. It’s about supporting your team.”

Finish Line had an internal brainstorming session with the site experience and creative teams that resulted in the creation of a brief that aligned with the product assortment. The strategy focused on consumers shopping by team colors to support their school with a broader marketing message across all relevant channels.

“Customers shop both the mobile and in-store channels, as well as through social media and paid search,” explained Quatrochi. “It was an opportunity to use timely and relevant marketing across all channels. We started with direct mail, notifying customers we would do something exciting related to the upcoming tournament. We followed up with emails, social media engagement and online promotion.”

Keeping up with the times (and teams)

Once the teams that would be participating in the tournament were announced in March, Finish Line supported customer engagement by using the bracket challenge tool from ESPN.com to create a pool with a chance to win gift cards. Finish Line also sent geo-targeted emails based on regional school affiliations.

“We delivered real-time social media promotion before and after each game,” Quatrochi said. “We had a blog with articles around different results and sent out promoted posts on Twitter and Instagram celebrating both teams in each game. We also used promotional in-store signage and briefed sales associates about the games affecting the stores in their area. We reached across every customer touchpoint.”

Finish Line used a variety of technology solutions to support this multi-faceted, omnichannel promotional approach. The retailer bases its online operations on an Oracle ATG e-commerce platform and an in-house-developed content management system.

In addition, Finish Line also employed the Smarter Remarketer email tool to help deliver targeted, personalized communications to specific customer segments. In addition, the company used the Shoutlet social media marketing application to plan content for various social media platforms and schedule posts that worked in conjunction with its real-time social posts. Other solutions included Google sitelink extensions and paid Facebook advertisements.

At the conclusion of March Madness, Finish Line found it had outpaced expectations for sell-through for NCAA-licensed merchandise and team color assortments. Site traffic to Finish Line’s college basketball team merchandise pages more than doubled, and total engagement on the company’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages increased. Results were impressive enough for Finish Line to continue extending the targeted, event-specific, omnichannel approach.

“We rolled out a similar strategy with the NBA Finals, using similar applications to what we used for March Madness,” Quatrochi said.

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