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5 Best Practices We Learned at #eTailEast 2015

eTail East in Boston has been a great opportunity to learn about how awesome e-retailers use their online and offline presences to seamlessly engage with their target audience. Omnichannel is becoming an integrated, “channel-less” stream, so continuing to silo them will hurt your business in the long term. Here are some best practices we’ve learned from day two.

1. Omnichannel needs to bridge the gap between the digital and physical experience

“When people are in stores, they will access your website, and the technology they’re accessing is not  a desktop,” Craig Wax, CEO of Invodo states. “You need let the consumer learn as much as possible about the product through rich media when standing in the isle or else they will become frustrated and leave.”

Build-a-Bear takes it one step further and preaches an online-offline-online approach because buying a bear is a “special occasion” event. Brand engagement is crucial whether it’s in store or online. “Digital should enhance the physical store experience, and vice versa, instead of replacing it,” says Brian Sawyer, Senior Managing Director of Digital at Build a Bear.

2. Omnichannel KPIs should be holistic, not looked at in each siloed channel.

Looking at OmniChannel KPIs, Derrick Walker, SVP of Marketing at Destination XL Group states “omni channel consumers spend TWICE as much money as in store or online shoppers.” He continues, “When we (at Destination XL Group) look at customers on the channel level, we miss the big picture. We look at general trends over all channels over time.” Craig Wax echoes this sentiment in saying “KPIs aren?t changing, it’s understanding how to measure them across channels. For example, 67% of in store purchases start online. We would miss this is we siloed KPIs.” Lastly, Kevin Moffitt, VP eCommerce Strategy at Office Depot, states that ?empowering the consumer is the bottom line; omnichannel companies need to be where the consumer is and give them the information they need in the easiest way possible.?

3. Retailers have their heads in the sand on omnichannel UX

In 2016, it is predicted that over half of purchases will occur over multiple devices and  no matter where the final purchase is made, 40% of the time there will be another device in play. All devices are now purchasing devices. James Smith, an SVP from Criteo concluded his session with this challenge: 13% of consumers rate their user experience as very good on smartphones (64% on desktop) , but 86% of etailers say believe their users’ experience is very good. We need to bridge that gap by optimizing over every single device.

4. Attribute online sales to individual stores to get them engaged with your OmniChannel strategy

Tracking conversion rates between online and offline channels can be a difficult feat. However, if you are able to include stores and reward them for participating in your omnichannel strategy things will go a lot smoother. David Albracht, Director eCommerce & Product Management at Home Depot ran an “online/offline attribution strategy” that tracked how much the physical and digital engagement transcended each other. He found that his “online conversion rate from the lighting category was around 5% but when you track online visits and in-store conversions (like in-store pickup) that number skyrocketed to 60%.”

Other omnichannel retailers like Baublebar use loyalty programs and digital coupons to do the same thing.  Andrew Chen, VP Product, Design & UX at Baublebar states that their “mobile app uses geolocation to know when a customer walks into a store and serves them promos when they are close to in-store products.” in doing this, Baublebar “creates a loyalty program that allows their customers to engage no matter where they interact.”

5. Integrate your digital platform

Wayne Duan, Director at Walgreens states that he uses his online presence to “test new products to see how they’ll do before moving them into the store.” He continues that they also “sunset products from the store that are no longer popular but have a niched appreciation.” In doing this, Walgreens is able to keep stores uncluttered, while still serving a greater audience. Additionally, Chen has been able to learn a lot about the user online because “buyer behavior online matches that of in-store behavior.” He notes that Walgreens is about convenience, and the Walgreens consumer is necessity driven, so his marketing strategy needs to reflect this on and off line. Without the integration of digital in his overall strategy, Walgreens would not have been able to see these trends and would have missed a big opportunity for conversion.

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