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Fashion and apparel’s quest to merge online and offline into omnichannel

  • Posted on May 22, 2017

A recently published report from Avanade and EKN, entitled “Fashion & Apparel: Achieving a frictionless shopper experience and streamlined operations” discusses major trends in the fashion and apparel industry. One of the conclusions drawn is that the lines between digital and physical shopping are getting more blurred, with customers preferring omnichannel interactions that offer a consistent, frictionless customer experience for research, purchase, order, ship, return and exchange – no matter if they are in-store or buying digitally. This growth of the digital touch points has forced physical stores in fashion and apparel to embrace capabilities and tools that enable digital transformation. So stores are implementing capabilities such as access to digital catalogs that can be displayed on in-store tablets or kiosks along with physical/digital integration as store fulfillment of digital orders, in-store mobile offer personalization, in-app mobile shopping and click and collect.

Also according to the report, shoppers in general want a unified experience across both the digital and physical formats, yet only a few are actually experiencing it. Retailers can alleviate this by understanding shoppers better, upgrading and integrating store technology to encompass all shopper engagement and operational touchpoints, and ensuring frictionless blocking and tackling (preventing out-of-stocks, localizing assortments, and providing the most optimal prices and offers).

An equally important aspect of digital and omnichannel shopping is delivery and management of the “last mile.” Most customers who place online and mobile orders have come to expect speedy delivery, to the point that free shipping within a day of purchase coupled with a free returns policy has become a driver for retailers as they strive to meet customer shopping expectations.

Retailers need to be aware of all of this when it comes time to prioritize their digital investments, so there is a focus on the “unified” commerce needs of their customers. An encouraging directional marker comes from a joint whitepaper published by Avanade and Sitecore that says 69% of the retail organizations surveyed are likely to invest in customer experience management over the next year and they expect to see a 10% increase in revenue as a result.

Growth in digital shopping coupled with smart in-store omnichannel technologies has redefined the way fashion and apparel retailers operate. It can increase sales, minimize advertising and marketing expenditures, and open the floodgates for new opportunities for operational collaboration between channels.

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