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Best Omnichannel Retailers 2022

The birth of Omnichannel way back in 2010 led to a significant shift in retail trading. Now, over a decade later, while most retailers are aware of the benefits of using omnichannel, not everyone has managed to successfully embrace the concept and effectively integrate omnichannel into business operations.
This is largely due to the sheer scope of what is involved when implementing a comprehensive omnichannel customer experience. Companies need to ensure they are providing effective support to customers at each stage of the buyer’s journey, from discovery, to purchasing, right down to post-purchase inquiries.

Often, business owners are aware of the benefits of leveraging omnichannel, but may struggle to practically implement omnichannel consistently across all three of these buying stages.

 

With these issues in mind, we take a look at some of the top global retailers that (according to a 2022 study conducted by Incisiv) are currently leading the way when it comes to creating a successful omnichannel customer experience. With each retailer, we highlight specific features of their omnichannel strategy that have led to growth, targeting different aspects of the customer journey.

Give yourself the best chance of succeeding with omnichannel in 2023, by implementing strategies leveraged by some of the top-retailers.

Communication Business Avenue has been helping some of the world’s largest companies to integrate call center systems and digital communication tools for the past 16 years.

Top Omnichannel retailers 2022

Ace Hardware

Currently the largest retail-owned hardware cooperative in the world, for the past 11 years Ace Hardware has consistently won accolades for having the highest rates of customer satisfaction. This is largely due to their customer-centric, omnichannel buying experience.

Discovery stage:

  • Extensive customer knowledge base, easily accessible from homepage under customer service tab. Gives comprehensive information on range of purchase enquiries.
  • Very easy to contact customer service, multiple touch points via email, phone, messaging

Purchase stage:

  • Offering various options for pickup: free delivery from store, free in-store pickup, free curbside pick-up
  • Curbside pickup – excellent example of omnichannel experience built around customer needs – customers can order online, once they get email confirmation that the order is ready, they can drive over to the local store, once they arrive they call and one of the associates will come and bring the order to your car.

Levi's

Despite being founded over 169 years ago, the iconic denim wear brand has managed to keep with the times, embracing the latest innovations in AI and machine learning to give their omnichannel strategy an impressive competitive edge. This brave innovation has seen significant results, with the company reporting 25% growth in their e-commerce business during the first quarter of 2021.

Discovery stage:

  • Virtual closet experience: During the course of the pandemic, the company teamed up with Kohl’s to create a unique virtual closet experience using the social media platform Snapchat, giving customers the ability to create different looks using AR.
  • Utilizing Ai and machine-learning: One use the company has found for AI and machine learning is developing an algorithm that generates outfit recommendations based on the customers past shopping history, and what is currently trending at the moment.

Purchase stage:

  • Virtual imaging with Zeekit: By teaming up with Zeekit (a company offering virtual ‘try on’ functionality), customers are better able to get a sense of the appropriate size to order when shopping online. By making the purchasing experience more interactive and relevant to the customers needs, the company aims to increase customer satisfaction and reduce returns rates.
  • Virtual stylist: (combining fashion expertise with AI) – customers can request specialized assistance from a virtual stylist chatbot. The virtual stylist is essentially a specialized chatbot that combines AI and integrates with Levi’s product library to deliver tailored customer recommendations. The chatbot gathers information from the customer including their preferred leg shape, rise and stretch, as well as utilizing information from True Fit sizing technology to produce personalized recommendations. As well as being available through the chat feature on Levi’s website, the virtual stylist is also accessible through other channels such as via facebook messenger.
  • Purchase assistance offered via live chat: if necessary, the customer can seamlessly request assistance from a live agent. The ability to speak directly with a live agent as the need arises, also allows the company to efficiently deal with more complex customer queries, when the need arises.

Walmart

The US multinational retail corporation has often been heralded as ‘leading the charge’ when it comes to omnichannel, and this can be seen from the 1.2 billion dollars it invested into it’s strategy way back in 2015.

Their continued commitment to omnichannel has paid dividends, in 2019 boasting a 90% penetration of US households through in-store and online retail.

Discovery stage:

  • Leveraging Augmented-Reality features: In June of 2022, Walmart announced that it would be expanding its AR shopping experience, allowing customers to view furniture, TV sets, and home decor items in their home via the ‘view in your home’ feature on the Walmart app. The feature supports haptic feedback which enables customers to feel vibrations as they move 3D models of furniture items around their homes, preventing them from dragging the items beyond the boundaries of the room.

Purchase stage:

  • Hyper-customer convenience with ‘Scan & Go’ mobile app. This feature allows members of Walmart’s premium Walmart+ program to make in-store purchases via the mobile app, without having to interact with a cashier. The service is designed to increase customer convenience, offering an additional checkout alternative for when queues and the purchase doesn’t involve alcohol or produce.
  • In-store AR features – On the employee side, Walmart is also utilizing AR to improve the efficiency of their associates. Now employees can view key product information in-store, simply by pointing their camera at the store shelves using the Walmart app.

Post-purchase:

  • Last mile & fulfillment strategy – During the 2 years of the pandemic, the company turned special attention to its ‘last mile’ delivery strategy, leveraging artificial intelligence and in-store inventory to increase convenience of delivery options and reduce customer waiting times. As a result of these innovations, during Q4 of 2021, the company reported 5.6% comparable sales growth and growing market share in grocery due to its robust last mile and fulfillment strategy.

Ralph Lauren

During a ‘pandemic-accelerated rollout’, the company added approx 4 million new customers through its direct-to-consumer platforms, experiencing significant double-digit growth in online sales over the 2020-21 fiscal year. Gartner’s Digital IQ index recently recognized Ralph lauren as the no.5 luxury brand in digital, citing its robust mobile features and connected retail programs as contributing factors.

Discovery stage:

  • Virtual store experiences – allows users to explore the interior of Ralph Lauren’s flagship stores around the globe. These virtual spaces feature the company’s newest collections together with antique and vintage offerings, which the virtual visitor can purchase from the comfort of their own home.
    The capability is also available via snapchat, with users being able to enter stores through a unique snapchat lens, and interact with different elements within the store.

Purchase stage:

  • Create-your-own program – customers have the ability to fully customize polo shirts and packable outerwear.
  • Virtual one-on-one appointments with a stylist – customers can schedule virtual one-on-one appointments with expert stylists who can offer tailored advice, as well as personalized styling and gift recommendations.

Target

One of several retailers who experienced unprecedented growth during the pandemic (1300% sales growth in 2 years to be precise) the company’s success can be attributed to diligent investment into its marketing and ecommerce strategy. The company stands out in its unique ‘store-centric’ approach, combining the physical experience and service of stores with the convenience and personalisation made possible through mobile apps.

Purchase stage:

  • Cartwheel app – the company developed an application that allows users to build shopping lists and find everything within Target’s brick-and-mortar locations. The app also panders to consumers’ interest in coupons and shopping for deals.
    Users are also able to add coupons from various printouts, as well as collect deals within the app and keep them all organized on one device. This saves the customer from having to travel to the store with multiple paper coupons.

Post-purchase stage:

  • Drive-up or pick-up service – they offer a range of delivery/collection options, including in-store pickup, free two-day shipping, same day delivery and drive-up (where a Target worker meets the customer at the curbside to hand over the delivery. ‘Drive-up’ service allows customers to leave the ‘heavy-lifting’ of bulkier products like bottled water, and groceries to the Target team, while the customer can enjoy the in-store shopping experience, browsing through more interesting products. In 2019, Target reported a 500% increase in drive-up sales, prompting it to ramp up its selection of fresh groceries and beverages available for same-day order pick-up and drive-up.
  • App features encouraging return customers – Through the cartwheel app, Target has added functionality through which customers can save shopping and coupon lists for use again in the future. This clever feature has been successful in driving repeat sales with existing customers.

Concluding thoughts:

The pandemic necessitated a swift change in the retail landscape, with an increased emphasis on ecommerce and crafting customer-centric experiences. The companies listed above all have one thing in common, in that years before, they were already invested in improving their omnichannel customer experience across all three stages of the buying journey.
In order to maintain a competitive edge, retailers need to continue to fine-tune their approach to omnichannel, ensuring that fulfilling the needs of the modern consumer, remains at the heart of the experience.

Communication Business Avenue offers a range of omnichannel solutions designed to enhance your company’s existing strategies, from AI chatbot integrations, Augmented reality tools and customer service solutions for Microsoft Dynamics 365. For the past 16 years the company has been helping customer success teams around the world to improve their business processes using the latest technologies. Feel free to contact us, for more information on how we may be able to help you.

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