Understanding the Future of Omnichannel in Apparel and Footwear Stores

3 min read

Going into the future, it’s important that every apparel and footwear retailer has a strategy that helps them develop into a truly omnichannel organization. That means bringing the digital experience offline and putting the customer as the center of everything,  connecting with them independently of the channel (as channel constraints and organizational silos are overcome) and finding ways to use customer data to generate revenue. Fortunately, a number of innovative companies are now demonstrating what kind of omnichannel strategies are currently possible. Their examples can show you how to increase your own customer engagement and offer a seamless shopping experience across all touchpoints.

The Importance of Omnichannel

The line between online and offline is beginning to blur, with customers increasingly using their devices and companies promoting digital experiences all in-store. In fact, one survey found that 90 percent of consumers use their smartphones in stores to perform actions like joining loyalty programs, finding discounts and comparing products and best prices. Those companies that integrate digital experiences into their stores can reap the rewards, with Deloitte indicating that mobile usage both before and during brick-and-mortar shopping trips produces $970 billion in sales.

Bringing the Digital Experience Offline

There are plenty of companies that are truly embracing the omnichannel approach and growing their sales in the process. Macy’s, for example, is a leader in omnichannel adoption. The retailer now allows customers who download the Macy’s app to use their smartphones to guide them to a product using an in-store mapping feature. At the same time, customers can scan barcodes in-store to look at online customer reviews and discounts, and even order a product in their size when it’s out-of-stock.

Smart Visual Searches Increase Customer Engagement

JCPenney is showing how much fun users can have with their smartphone as they shop. For example, a new initiative allows an individual to take a photograph of someone’s boots with their smartphone and then see if their local JCPenney has them or something like them in stock. Urban Outfitters has also implemented a similar strategy, allowing users to snap photos of products they like in order to find similar products in the retailer’s inventory.


Neiman Marcus has previously leveraged Slyce’s mobile visual search platform.

Streamlining In-Store Pickup

Retailers offering cross-channel support are making life easier for customers. In May of 2015, Nordstrom introduced a service that helps make it far more comfortable to pick up products in-store. When a customer is approaching a Nordstrom location, they can call or text a Nordstrom sales associate to let them know they are arriving shortly. The store employee can then approach the customer outside the store, allowing them to avoid even getting out of their car to pick up the product.

Creating a Digital Store From Top to Bottom

High-end clothing retailers like Burberry are also blurring the lines between physical and digital. The retailer now allows customers to view local store inventory online and perform easy in-store pickup. Burberry’s flagship London store also has innovative features like in-store mirrors that double as interactive screens in order to showcase visual content and advertise new fashions to customers. Burberry has even integrated the digital experience into its actual products, such as weaving RFID chips into apparel that trigger multimedia content on a customer’s smartphone for increased customer engagement.

The new Ugg store at the Tysons Galleria serves as an innovation lab for the company. Here, a touchscreen uses RFID technology to identify the shoe Diana Krahn is wearing. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)
The new Ugg store at the Tysons Galleria serves as an innovation lab for the company. Here, a touchscreen uses RFID technology to identify the shoe Diana Krahn is wearing. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Capital Business)

At the same time, in-store employees carry iPads that allow them to access a customer’s purchase history and personal information in order to provide them with a personalized shopping experience. It’s just another example of how certain apparel and footwear retailers are leading the omnichannel charge to improve the customer experience.

Ultimately, if you’re an apparel and footwear retailer who wants to increase your omnichannel appeal, then join us tomorrow in our next webinar, where we will discuss how an omnichannel approach can help you address the unique challenges facing your business.

Thursday 5th of May at 11.30 CEST in English

Thursday 5th of May at 17.00 CEST in Spanish