Retail brands finally start to get smart with omnichannel

Omni channel retail brands

Omnichannel has been the buzz word in retail for some time but in many cases it seems to be more talk than action.

However, with recent technology innovation and structure changes, Gap Inc. is now one step closer to living the omnichannel dream.

Despite the rhetoric, most retailers seem to still be treating their online and store experiences very differently. Getting shoppers instore is still the focus but when store is not available, you’re normally on your own. At best, they will check what other stores have stock or reluctantly suggest you could order it online.

Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck has now signalled the group’s new strategy to bridge the gap between physical and digital worlds.

Retail brand customer experience

In their quarterly report, Peck says “Looking ahead at 2015, we will continue executing our global growth strategy, bringing new digital capabilities to life and making the shifts necessary to consistently deliver the brand-right, emotional product that our customers expect from all of our brands.”

Peck emphasised the focus across the company, is about creating a seamless customer experience using digital as the glue.

“It’s the omnichannel—the physical and the digital experience and how all of that comes together,” Peck explains. “I am excited about that because today the digital expression of our brand is the primary way that our customers engage in our brands. And if you look at our traffic, the bulk of our traffic is coming into our digital properties.”

brand experience

Inline with Gap’s new strategy, the global CMO role is gone. Traditional marketing and the digital business are one. Scott Key becomes the company’s first Global Head of Customer Experience.

Key is now responsible for creating a seamless customer and brand experience at every touchpoint from digital, instore and at home. Innovations such as Gap’s mobile point of sale and ordering system are now top priority. The new instore ordering system ‘Keep clam and shop is a smart piece of technology is the sort of intuitive technology that really starts to deliver real benefit for customers. It is currently being trialled in 1,000 of the company stores in the USA (see video below).

Peck also stressed that not just about “enabling transactions online and in-store for greater efficiency, but about creating an experience the elevates the shopping experience and reinforces each brand.”

Beyond just being effective and efficient channels, Peck wants the websites to be “aspirational, holistic, emotional, in a way that few people have expressed their brands digitally”.

It will be interesting to see this develop but strategy feels solid and the early signs are promising.

Michael Hughes
Managing Partner, Strategy

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