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Demandware Xchange ’14 – All About Omnichannel

Steve Susina • April 24, 2014

Omnichannel retailing a focus for eCommerce Consulting

It was no big surprise that omni-channel retail was one of the hottest topics at the Demandware Xchange Conference this year. Creating an online experience that rivals the in-store experience is, without a doubt, on the minds of most retailers. At the conference, Demandware leaders Thomas Ebling (President and CEO) and Jeffrey Barnett (COO) spoke in detail about the capabilities of the Demandware platform to power all commerce, both in brick-and-mortar and on retail sites. They emphasized the need to bring the online experience to brick and mortar stores and vice versa.

Forrester Research urges online retailers to meet changing consumer expectations

Harley Manning, Vice President of Customer Experience at Forrester Research, led a discussion establishing that if retailers do not meet the rapidly increasing expectations of today’s consumer, the consumer will simply choose to shop with another retailer that does. Manning used Burberry’s flagship store on London’s Regent Street as an example of how to marry the online and brick and mortar shopping experiences. The 44,000 square foot store is designed to immerse customers through both a physical shopping experience and also a digital experience that showcases the brand’s tradition and luxury. The space features over 100 digital screens and 400 audio speakers, providing adaptive signage and multimedia content in various sections of the store.

Online merchandising is brought to the physical space through garments and accessories that are tagged with a RFID chips transforming dressing mirrors into digital screens linked to multi-media content.For example, a handbag may trigger a video displayed on a screen detailing the craftsmanship that went into making the bag, while a dress may trigger a runway video featuring the garment. Associates at Burberry Regent Street also carry iPads allowing them to access customer purchase history, preferences, and storeroom inventory. Looking for an out of stock inventory or waiting for inventory to become available?  Not a problem at the Burberry on Regent Street. The store houses a 16,000 square foot storeroom with high speed elevators concealed behind walls whisking iPad toting associates to the storeroom to quickly retrieve garments. The space features the sophisticated beauty a customer would expect from a luxury store, and impresses the customer with all the latest and coolest digital technology and brand content available in an online experience.

Peer 1 strives for a seamless experience

Also at the conference, Pier 1 Imports CIO, Andy Laudato, spoke about “driving a seamless experience to the consumer across all channels.”  Today’s customer not only wants an in store experience to rival an online shopping experience, but also wants a digital shopping experience to mimic their familiar in-store experiences. They want to be able to easily locate products online, find inspiration from collections, and discover what inventory is immediately available. Laudato explained Pier 1’s geo-location to find inventory at a store near you. To step it up to the next level, Pier 1 has introduced another level of sophistication by allowing users to have the ability to find stores that have “stock for all items in your basket.” This gives the customer the choice to buy on spot from the site, or go to the physical store and check out their items.

Pacesetter Award winner shows 220% increase in conversions.

This year, Demandware introduced the Pacesetter Award, which recognizes “individuals or organizations that have leveraged the power of the Demandware platform in the most effective and innovative ways to move their businesses forward.”  This year’s winner was the New Zealand based fine jewelry company, Michael Hill. This retailer embodies the spirit of omni-channel through their creation of an engaging online experience that has increased site visits by 85% and increased conversions by 220%! Michael Hill recognizes that jewelry purchases are not only a high dollar purchase, but also an emotional purchase—something that is often absent in an online shopping experience. Customers want to know from where their gemstones are coming and learn about the craftsmanship that went into each finished piece. Michael Hill incorporates “shoppable videos” into product detail pages, enabling customers to watch a video detailing the selection, certification of the gemstone, design and craftsmanship of the finished piece. This creates an immersive and emotional buying experience that emulates the advantages of buying in store.

To recreate the in store experience of building charm bracelets, one of Michael Hill’s top selling items, the brand created an interactive “design your own” module. The user chooses their bracelet from over 35 options, and then chooses the charms and accessories they desire. Similar to crafting a unique piece in a Michael Hill store, a site user is able to drag and drop selections on the bracelet and see their product come to life before checking out.

This year’s Demandware XChange addressed many of the questions on the minds of retailers in regards to digital and in-store solutions. The speeches I heard and the conversations I had at the conference left no doubt in my mind that omni-channel is the future of retail. As a Demandware Strategic Partner, LYONSCG has the eCommerce consulting experience and talent to leverage the platform. Taking advantage of omni-channel retailing will certainly help you maximize your brand’s eCommerce potential.

With so many brilliant minds in one space, Demandware XChange 2014 was an unforgettable experience, and I am so glad I was able to attend!

Steve Susina

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Steve Susina

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