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Editor's Comment: Align your multichannel strategy with customer expectations

This week at Drapers the conversation kept coming back to digital strategies, as we held our annual multichannel roundtable breakfast this morning.

At the roundtable, our panel of retailers discussed some of the key findings from our upcoming Multichannel Consumer Insight report, sponsored by K3 and Attraqt, which will be published in full on 6 October. We surveyed 2,000 consumers on topics including online and in-store shopping, use of mobile and tablet, social media, personalisation, and delivery and returns.

Many retailers said the report reassured them that their multichannel strategies are aligned with customers’ expectations. However, there were some unexpected findings – one was that, overall, stores are still the most popular shopping channel.

Another interesting point was around the use of technology in stores. While more than half of those surveyed said that they would use technology if it helped them to select the right products or made the trip faster and easier, a third pointed out that they would still prefer to be served by people, not robots and others avoid technology as they find it too complicated, or never had the opportunity to use it. The agreement around the table was that one-to-one customer service should be supported by great technology to provide a seamless multichannel experience.

In terms of social media, despite the buzz around influencers, a very small percentage of consumers (around 5%) said it motivates them to buy clothes. Facebook and Instagram were the most popular channels to browse fashion. When I first started writing about fashion ecommerce several years ago, Twitter was the channel retailers focused on, but everyone agreed it is now predominantly a customer service channel to respond to complaints and queries.

It was also really interesting to hear how retailers are beginning to embrace voice recognition technology, as they see this becoming the next big thing in terms of customer search. It was pointed out that in a similar way to when businesses started optimising for Google searches, they will need to learn and test how to optimise for voice recognition. 

We will explore these and related issues in more depth over the coming months and at the Drapers Digital Festival in April next year, which will focus on how to successfully engage fashion customers.

Entries are now open for the Drapers Digital Awards, which are part of the festival and will highlight which brands and retailers are getting their digital strategies right. To find out more about how to showcase your achievements and celebrate the innovation within the sector, visit https://digitalfestival.drapersonline.com.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Interesting there’s no mention on VR, so much the next big thing? Beacons before that. Now onto voice. Yet this research highlights stores remain the most popular channel.

    How is this unexpected? More than 3/4 of sales still go through stores and the role of stores, influencing total sales is in fact far higher, as it supports inadequacies of online.

    While offering click and collect and taking back online returns (typically 3-4 times higher than returns of in-store purchases), stores have diluted their service to those visiting who actually plan to purchase.

    By so doing, creating an experience that leaves customers cold. They may as well buy online. The service is similarly ‘self serve’.

    The big problem for brands is how this is impacting on loyalty. Online is great to compare prices but far less emotionally attached.

    Traditional fashion retail needs to focus on in-store service. Arming store staff with technology that enables them to give outstanding service. Not just finding stock or a size for that matter...

    Tech that complements between both store and online channels is the future. However the present is this... it’s also the priority for traditional fashion retail. Those who do it first will win back real loyalty. At the cost and demise of those who only follow.

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