How are ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers using multichannel effectively?

‘Multichannel’ has become a ubiquitous term in retailing and there are sound business reasons for adopting an integrated multichannel strategy.

Not only does multichannel tie together the consumer’s off and online experience, but with real advantages like “click and collect”,(which allows the customer to check if a product is in stock, order it and receive it the same day before even leaving the house) multichannel can help bricks and mortar businesses improve how cost effective they are in terms of e-fulfilment, home delivery, returns etc.

So it comes as no suprise that Multichannel leader John Lewis has introduced wifi to their stores, making it easier for shoppers to price check and compare in-store.

And as social media is woven into the multichannel experience, the buying habits of ‘others like us’ is influencing consumer decision making. So it’s often the case that the savvy multichannel consumer is as knowledgeable as the store assistant, not just on comparable offers, but also the features, functionality and suitability of products on sale. US retailer Sears has combated this by equipping their staff with iPads to help their assistants meet the expectations of their product-aware customers.

Often held up as a pioneer of social commercePolyvore has been extremely successful in building a business based on creating an outfit or ‘look’ for others to purchase. This concept, until now,  has been for e-businesses only but  bricks and mortar retailers could use the concept to give a physical shopper access to choose from an expanded stock line, as well as helping the consumer match items they purchased in person to other items online.

Bricks and mortar shopping centre owner Westfield has actually taken this concept on board by developing a virtual mall. Westfield’s virtual mall gives online shoppers the experience of shopping in-store in an online environment. For instance, where you might buy several matching items from different retailers in a trip to a shopping centre or High Street, Westfield’s virtual mall allows you to look at and compare the goods of several retailers in an integrated, ecommerce shopping experience.

Retailers who ignore multichannel do so at their own peril as it is clearly a way to allow the  traditional bricks and mortar retailer to bring their customers the best of both the on and offline worlds.