The Takeaway: Leading retailers are moving toward omnichannel, and your company should, too.
Customer experience has never been more important. Microsoft's recent Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report revealed that 97 percent of consumers say customer service is a significant factor in choosing and remaining loyal to a brand. And a big factor when it comes to rating customer engagement success is flexibility - U.S. customers used an average of four channels when interacting with brands.
Together, these two stats highlight the fast-growing importance of omnichannel. Consumers want to be able to switch between engagement channels quickly, easily and without repeating information.
As our new white paper makes clear, true omnichannel and customer journey analytics have not quite arrived, but they are very much on the horizon. Unsurprisingly, though, some of the world's leading retailers are ahead of the curve - and offer some valuable guidance for other brands as we move closer and closer to an entirely omnichannel world.
Walmart: Bridging Digital and Physical Realms
Walmart, the world's largest retailer, is betting big on omnichannel.
The company has seen mixed results in recent quarters, but one of the recurring bright spots has been its Web sales. Considering the physical presence Walmart has, it shouldn't be a surprise that the company isn't about to abandon its brick-and-mortar customers, though. Instead, the retailer is striving to bridge the gap between the two spaces, and that creates the ideal conditions for omnichannel.
"I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they're two separate things," CEO Doug McMillon said at last year's Annual Shareholders Meeting. "The customer doesn't think of it that way, and we can't either."
As one example of this effort, Walmart added almost 100 locations with online grocery pickup services late last year and has upped its investment in geofencing technology which alerts brick-and-mortar retailers when a customer arrives to pick up a delivery, Internet Retailer reported.
Contributing to Forbes, the Trefis Team argued that omnichannel retail will play a key role in Walmart's future growth.
Lowe's: Omnichannel Evolution
Omnichannel is also playing a big and increasing role for Lowe's. In September, the company reported a very good Q2, and COO Rick Damron attributed that success in large part to "our evolving omnichannel capabilities."
This evolution included the introduction of project specialists at stores across the country, along with improved product search, better product photos (including 360-degree views) and the addition of high-quality videos to Lowe's website. Together, this represents a dedicated effort to improve the customer experience - a key aspect to any omnichannel endeavor.
Kohl's: Embracing Experimentation
Among retailers, Kohl's has initiated one of the more ambitious omnichannel initiatives. More specifically, last year the company announced it was taking several simultaneous steps in the omnichannel direction. These included a new "store mode" for the Kohl's mobile app, providing a more personalized experience for brick-and-mortar shoppers, and a virtual shopping bag that is accessible via smartphone, desktop or tablet.
This wide-ranging effort points to yet another critical component of omnichannel success: the willingness to experiment with new ways of doing business across the entire organization.
What steps is your company taking to embrace omnichannel?