A "tick box" mentality is not good enough when it comes to multichannel says Belstaff director of eCommerce Caroline Rolfe
Regardless of the number of fancy terms being bandied around to describe the future of retail - whether it's multichannel or omnichannel - it shouldn't detract from what is really important - ensuring the consumer's "experience" of a brand is at the heart of a retailer's strategy.
This sentiment kicked off Belstaff director of eCommerce Caroline Rolfe's session at The Drum's Digital Convergence conference in London this week.
She warned against brands cultivating a "tick-box" mentality when approaching their multichannel strategies, instead stressing the importance of putting the customer experience at the heart of the process and taking every consumer touch point into consideration.
"Technology is a given, customers are going to have tablets and smartphones but focus should be more and more the experience. It shouldn't be about creating mobile sites just to tick a box, focus should be on thinking about what does your customer wants from you from these different channels and how do they want to experience your brand," she says.
This is doubly important for luxury brands given they have built their foundation on the customer experience, according to Rolfe. "Think about what it felt like walking out of Chanel with a Chanel bag - that's what needs to be looked at and replicated across all channels - and of course it is big data that will provide the backbone of all this."
The way in which retail is evolving and accelerating across channels is keeping old buzzwords like attribution fresh, with the multichannel journey highlighting just how critical attribution still is. "The more a customer interacts with a brand it increases their loyalty to your brand and shortens the path to purchase. But it is important not to separate your online and offline customer data," she adds.
Although it is important not to create mobile sites for the sake of ticking boxes, it is still vital retailers, specifically luxury ones, can meet the needs of multichannel users. Rolfe cited findings from a Luxury Retail Study in 2012 which revealed 73 per cent of luxury retailers had a mobile site but only 49 per cent of them were transactional.
"That's pretty scary when you think mobile is driving 13 per cent of sales and 17 per cent of overall businesses. Tablet is huge for luxury brands because people have time to sit with their iPads and engage with their brands, and tablet users also have a much higher average spend too," she adds.
Email is also not optimised for mobile enough, with 33 per cent of luxury retailers failing to make their emails mobile-ready, according to the same survey - a statistic Rolfe describes as "mind blowing".
Many retailers have failed to recognise, adapt and embrace changes to consumer behaviours in the last few years, with the likes of HMV and others falling by the wayside as a result. However, Rolfe believes retailers are or on the cusp of an evolution.
"Traditional retailers are at a pivotal moment in time, they should be targeting the in-store experience, capturing and sustaining their customers and translating that into digital strategies," she says. She pointed to brands including Burberry, Clinique, Sephora, Jimmy Choo, and Nails Inc as examples of brands that have used innovative technology to enhance in-store experiences with a mix of budgets.