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Omnichannel is a buzzword which is old news now, but it’s getting used more than ever across retail in 2015. It’s all about retailers being able to serve their customers better than ever before, across multiple channels. As brands adapt to customer expectations there are a number of different ways which they are innovating and disrupting the retail space via technology.

From creating stimulating in-store experiences to optimizing the ecommerce shopping cart, to flexible delivery options - offering a convenient, consistent, positive customer journey is vital for a brand, especially in the world of fashion. Without a strategic approach or long-term vision retailers can get lost in all the different retail technology options available.

There are great examples of retailers paving the way in adopting technology from retail giants like House of Fraser to independents. It’s great to see innovation in practice and retailers can learn a lot from one another. There’s lot of different tech out there, here are some examples of some of retail technology in use:

 

Forward thinking fashion brand Zara

With Amazon setting the bar so high, delivery is a hot topic in retail. Even the best shopping experience can be cancelled out by a bad delivery experience. Those looking for retail success tend to be retailers that can both promise and deliver. Companies like Tesco, Vision Direct, Asos and thousands more are using third-party delivery software to meet customer expectations. Renowned for it’s fast paced seasonal stock, Zara has become Spain's best known fashion brand. Its success has come from fine-tuning their supply chain and adopting technology early on during their journey in retail to really underpin their business strategy.

As part of their strategy to sustain competitive advantage they are using Scurri’s technology to ship into Ireland. Scurri makes carrier integrations simple and flexible - merchants can easily print delivery labels for a wide range of couriers. Instead of having to build a new solution to manage each individual carrier, Scurri maintains multiple carrier integrations for you. Giving you the ability to set rules in the app to prioritise couriers who offer the best rates based on weight, postcode, country, item and value etc.

This flexibility allows Zara to streamline their operations and gives them the ability to serve their customers better. Also, Senior Ecommerce Manager of Timberland, Dan Mahoney told Drapers; “We are looking at partnering with a third-party provider like MetaPack, which integrates the key carriers into its system so retailers can be more nimble in managing multiple carriers from a single point single point [for deliveries to consumers].

Delivery is key for retail success, by offering flexible delivery options like next day deliveries and click-and-collect your giving your customers another reason to buy from you. Customer experience is of the utmost importance for keeping customers engagement, and standing out from your competition to attract new business. It’s not just large brands like Zara and Timberland who can take advantage of retail technology like Scurri and Metapack for retail success. You can find out more about both delivery apps in the Brightpearl App Store.

Find out how customer of ours The Ramp People are using Scurri together with Brightpearl for ‘Personalization & Tech Adoption’.

 

Rigby & Peller invest in-store

Ecommerce is a major factor for retail and mcommerce is responsible for a high percentage of all retail transactions online, which is no wonder as two-thirds of the world are using their phone the moment they wake up! With these eye-opening stats, find out what eBay, Levis & Strauss and Target had to say about the future of retail technology in-store from a panel discussion at SXSW. Healey Cypher, Head of Retail Innovation for eBay made a point of saying: "Stores aren't going to go away, but they are going to change, consumers have changed. Their expectation is accelerating incredibly fast."

Brands like Rigby & Peller, a luxury lingerie and swimwear brand, have decided to invest in technology for their stores. During the course of 2015 Rigby & Peller plan to invest into in-store via three areas of focus: 3D virtual mirrors, tablets and high-definition screens. Through these technology adoptions they plan to enhance the shopping experience for their customers. Having launched this technology in their flagship boutiques last year they have seen the benefits and are rolling these out across the rest of their stores.

Taking the pain out of the shopping experience is what will set you apart from your competition. Also, there’s no point in having tech just for the sake of it, if it’s not solving an issue it’s probably not worth spending money on and adding into your strategy. Rigby & Peller and brands like Levi Strauss know that shopping for jeans, lingerie and swimwear is sometimes the most painful experience for women shoppers. By allowing them to try on multiple outfits without actually having to try them on - through a 3D virtual mirror - you can alleviate that stress.

Holly Bocock, Head of Marketing and PR, Rigby & Peller explains; “The [3D] mirror records more than 140 measurements in less than a minute, determining body shape and curves. It photographs customers in every products and displays the product image on the monitor allowing customers to compare each immediately.” 

They are giving the customer easy access to trying on all their products, extending a deeper customer relationship with their products, brand and store. “The balance between our personal lingerie styling service and the mirror has been positively received by our customers who have found it has made shopping for lingerie a simpler, more enjoyable experience and the ability to compare products easily has encouraged them to go beyond their comfort zone and try new styles which previously they may have not had the confidence to do.”

Not as high-tech as 3D virtual mirrors is having tablets and screens in-store, something which SMB retailers can consider implementing into their strategy sooner rather than later.

A customer of ours Oaklandish uses screens in their store by the fitting rooms for shoppers who are waiting for friends and partners to try on outfits. Simple, but this can lighten the boredom and stress of some shopping experiences. It’s the simple things like this which will enhance your overall customer experience.

 

Warby Parker master social connectivity

Warby Parker sell fashionable vintage-inspired glasses and sunglasses and they have grown rapidly with a history of successful social media campaigns. They started out as an ecommerce based business - they would ship customers five pairs of frames that they selected from Warby Parker's website. When they arrived the packaging would encourage them to take pictures of themselves wearing the glasses and then post the photos on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Shoppers seeking opinions outside of their own social media circles can submit pictures to Warby Parker's Facebook page for additional feedback from others. Customers can take five full days to test out the glasses before shipping them back and, Warby Parker hopes, placing an order.

Boldly Warby Parker decided to move from just an online only business, which was very successful for them, to having traditional storefronts. They are now using physical stores for social purposes too. They are offering a $50 eye exam and will assign you a personal stylist to help find the perfect pair for you. Taking the social experience to the next level, they provide a photo booth in the store which is connected up to the internet for consumers to email their new looks to themselves and/or friends and share socially. Customers can even print out their new look on polaroids right then and there.

Picking a pair of glasses isn’t an easy choice, by Warby Parker allowing customers easy access to feedback through social channels they’ve created a fun and exciting way to help people make the right choices, whilst getting their brand message far and wide. Warby Parker are another company to watch leading the way in tech. They have even started looking at heat sensored cameras outside their stores to determine why people drop out of the shopping cycle before walking through the door - watch this space!

 

Oaklandish recognized as Fortune Inner City 100 company

Inventory management and meeting customer demand is a fundamental part of being a retailer. Offering an omnichannel experience is a mixture of techniques to enhance your customer experience but this is all supported by your inventory, supply chain and back-office processes. Oaklandish have doubled their payroll and grown 35% annually with the support of a retail management system like Brightpearl. They have since been voted Fortune's inner city 100 company which is an impressive recognition. You can learn more about Oaklandish in their customer story here.

Once you’re managing your inventory successfully you can start thinking about things like reporting and optimizing your inventory by season codes, sourcing new products and optimizing your assortment strategy, and marketing and merchandising. When you’re growing a fashion retail business you need to have enough resources and spare cash to spend on activities like these and the possibility of investing in new technology to support those activities without running out of stock and disappointing customers. It is balancing act which is difficult to get right!

Maintaining an accurate inventory and streamlining processes with the right multichannel system will be the difference between retail success and an unsuccessful costly venture. You can find out more about Brightpearl by requesting a free trial.

Something which has always rung true for retailers is offering great customer service, ensuring you keep your customers coming back for more. Now there are more ways than ever before for customers to buy from retailers. Most importantly it’s thinking about how you can provide the best possible experience for your customers, regardless of how they want to engage with you which is going to set you apart from your competition. Consumers don’t care about the channel they are buying from they just want a great service.

Investing in technology very much depends on your budget, what channels you’re selling on and what you can afford. Unless the technology you’re looking at doesn’t solve a fundamental problem then it’s not worth investing in. Those technologies which can support a better experience for your customers is what will get your business growing. Delivering an enriched, digital shopping experience for your customers will keep you ahead of the game and impact your bottom line.

 


We’d love to know how you are using technology to make your retail experience better, big or small, please let us know by commenting below.

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About the Author

Grainne is the Head of Campaigns at Brightpearl and leads the execution of Brightpearl's global campaign strategy. Having worked in the retail tech space for five years, learning more about how technology can help retailers grow is a huge topic of interest.