Two days ago, we blogged about the emergence of the "omnichannel experience" in retail, which (through technology and physical interaction) allows merchants to connect with customers on several channels simultaneously.
This concept goes beyond the "multi-channel" approach: It isn't about serving different channels at once -- rather, it's about melding all channels into a single, technology-enabled experience. Today's consumers want to "slip seamlessly from store to website to mobile device," wrote Christina Cheddar Berk of CNBC.com last month, reporting that "omnichannel" became the buzzword at NRF 2012.
How do you do offer an omnichannel experience?
The Signature mobile app for iOS is hoping to bridge this gap for retailers. "(The app) is developed to provide store associates and shoppers with detailed features and capabilities to create a more engaging in-store shopping experience," writes Alicia Fiorletta of Retail TouchPoints.
"Through the Signature app, shoppers receive automatic notifications on their mobile devices," she adds. "Alerts promote shopping events and new information such as updates on preferred items and brands, as well as new inventory arrivals. Upon entering a store location, consumers are greeted with a summary of new items, the latest fashions on the floor and any relevant sales events."
So what's the value to customers?
For an app to become successful, it needs to offer value (see Social Commerce ROI). What does Signature offer?
- Notifications of new product releases. These are exclusive to app users -- their friends who aren't on it won't know about the hot new launches or events.
- Incentives to visit the physical store. Location-based deals and a breakdown of new products/promos available in-store -- all popping up on your phone upon entry.
- Personalized service. Like Shopkick, Signature notifies customers and sales staff of each other's presence in-store. (Signature actually goes one further and notifies customers if their preferred sales associate is working, and lets customers make appointments with/leave messages for the associate.)
And the ROI to retailers?
- Boost profits. More opportunities to make sales and suggest upsells.
- Improve customer engagement. The cachet of receiving special treatment (information, discounts and service) motivates people to visit the store.
- Increase customer loyalty. Staff can use the app to get to know customers better and develop relationships with them... and with their friends and families.
The key for retailers is to offer the incentives and convenience consumers are looking for (whether through an app like Signature or otherwise) across all channels. And the offering can't differ between channels; that would be multi-channel. It's gotta feel like a single, consistent experience -- an omnichannel one.