The Omnichannel Experience

Today’s retailing options — from brick-and-mortar stores to mobile apps — are providing new opportunities for retailers at the independent and chain levels to better reach their consumers and enhance their brand equity. But new retailing frontiers also come with challenges, agreed stores participating in “The Sole of Omni Channel” seminar presented by Sterne Agee at MAGIC today.

According to Rick Ausick, president of Famous Footwear, the chain’s mobile app, launched in September 2013, has yet to realize its full potential. “The smart phone is the choice of customers to interact with us and [for us] to turn it into more of a business [platform],” Ausick said.

Overall, only three percent of the retailer’s business comes from online shopping, he added. “The products we carry are sold in a lot of places,” he noted. “The key is to make [online shopping] convenient. It’s about the total [shopping] experience and how similar it is [for consumers] online, mobile and in store.

Like Ausick, Cliff Sifford, CEO of Shoe Carnival, said the company has not yet realized the impact of online sales. “We’re trying to tie our website and stores together in order [to provide] the same shopping experience,” he said.

Launching e-commerce just three years ago, the company revamped its commerce site in August 2013, resulting in online sales becoming the fastest part of its business. Key to the initiative has been the ability to drop ship product directly from its vendor partners, allowing for an expanded product offering online.

It’s not just mega retailers that are tackling online opportunities. With Boston-based independent The Tannery and Concepts, co-owner Tarek Hassan said the shop’s online business online faces with competition from other e-tailers selling footwear in the brown shoe space it occupies. Concepts, on the other hand, offers a mix of collaborations and exclusives, which has allowed it to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

According to Hassan, Concepts takes advantage of social media platforms such as Instagram and bloggers to help promote its goods. “Concepts has a faster consumer than The Tannery,” he said. “Kids move fast, and we need to act fast with product.

“Consumers believe in us, if we say that’s a hot shoe,” he added. “We do the work and thinking for them. It’s a smooth ride. We have done it with Concepts and now are trying with The Tannery.”

According to Tarek, within the next few weeks, The Tannery will be launching a series of new micro-websites that both distinguish and connect the three distinct product areas of the store, including Curated, an assortment of luxe goods, and Wildnerness, which focuses on outdoor products.

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