China’s Singles Day – 11.11.2015 – the biggest shopping festival in the world, will no doubt once again break international eCommerce records this Wednesday.
But while watching numbers tick astronomically higher is exciting, retailers should be paying attention to what Alibaba is doing differently this year: omnichannel.
For the first time, Alibaba is bringing part of Singles Day (also known as Double 11, or Guangun Jie) offline. It has promised that more than 1000 retail brands encompassing over 180,000 stores across 330 cities in China will join the 11.11 Festival.
Customers will be able to price match in-store goods with TMall discounts. Some areas will be able to deliver products within two hours, essentially turning stores into distribution centres.
Much like Alibaba’s 2014 mobile shopping push made mCommerce a “new normal,” you can expect 2015 to begin a boom in omnichannel. Retailers will do well to begin strategising through a smart integration of their physical stores and digital commerce now.
Here are two guidelines to consider when reassessing how your physical and digital presences can complement each other in this new omnichannel world:
Make the store a customer solution
The consumer does not make a distinction between a brand offline and online – and neither should retailers. Physical stores create interesting opportunities to reduce customer friction points or quickly resolve customer problems. Extend in-store services to add incremental customer value or create a good atmosphere.
We recently helped GrandVision, the world’s largest eyewear conglomerate, create a retail experience centered around eye care. They wanted to emphasize their medical-grade professionalism and commitment to demystifying eye care for consumers.
Design points such as having an eye-testing facility placed in the middle of each store emphasises their dedication to this cause, and informational content placed across all digital channels means customers could empower and inform themselves across desktop, mobile or in-store digital panels.
By consolidating all consumer interactions with GrandVision into one platform, everything from booking an eye exam to buying lenses have been made seamless both offline and on. The one view of consumers helps give store associates the tools they need to better understand customer motivations, provide support and make the store an integral part of customer interactions with the brand.
Make your store experiential
Retail used to be rooted in the transaction, but now that technology has decoupled transactions from physical spaces, retailers have tremendous freedom to build a memorable experience in stores.
We helped Audi design an interactive experience for its flagship showroom in Beijing, using screens and responsive content to let customers cycle through endless customisations of their ideal Audi cars. The Audi City showroom cut down on costly retail rents while allowing Audi to showcase all inventory and imprint its brand message of “Vorsprung durch Technik (advancement through technology).”
Physical store experiences properly integrated with digital are part of the equation for brand differentiation and continued relevance. Consumers go seamlessly from online to offline and back. Retailers need to learn to do the same.