Controversial

Omnichannel, Meet Omnidirectional

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar merchants are being squeezed by deals offered online, necessitating the need to bolster their own online capabilities. But some online-only merchants, such as California’s Gypsy05, similarly are seeing advantages in the touchy-feely benefits having actual stores can provide. The latest omnichannel trends could have far-reaching benefits, possibly even for small-town merchants serving as pick-up locations for unaffiliated online merchants.

As more merchants, and malls, are seeing less foot traffic these days and are looking to enhance their online efforts to compete, some online retailers are taking the opposite tact, choosing instead to add a brick-and-mortar presence.

Such actions demonstrate how the omnichannel trend is omnidirectional as well.

Gypsy05, a 10-year-old online California-lifestyle brand, for example, plans to open its first two retail locations this month, in Beverly Hills and in the Malibu Country Mart. Later in the year, it intends to open a third location, in Orange County, pending completion of real estate negotiations now underway.

It’s in the touch

Whereas traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are looking to bolster their online presence to capture more sales from consumers seeking deals, executives at Gypsy05 see advantages in enabling customers to touch and feel merchandise they may have seen while on vacation.

“We want you to feel like you entered a place that you came across while exploring on your summer holiday,” Osi Shoham, the retailer’s creative director and designer, said in a statement. “You will find things that are unique even for LA. You will want to stop in to find the perfect dress to attend a beach wedding or a special gift for your best friend but then stay for a moment to relax in our lounge area and catch the happenings on Robertson Blvd. It’s the full experience, and it is going to be stunning.”

The retailer’s owners, Dotan and Osi Shoham, are best known for incorporating eco-friendly techniques into the construction of their Los Angeles-made, California-lifestyle garments, including low-impact dyes and organic fabrics. Both locations opening this month will a range of boho-chic Gypsy05 apparel for men and women, along with the Gypsy05 Sand swim line.

The 800-square-foot retail stores also will offer furniture and accessories designed by the siblings. Gypsy05 Home will consist of colorful chairs, blankets, poufs, handbags and scarves in classic Gypsy05 prints and dyes. To complete the “world traveler vibe,” the stores will incorporate unusual found goods, handmade jewelry, candles, and books from around the world retailing from $90 – $450, according to the company’s announcement.

Goes both ways

While Gypsy05 is working to establish a brick-and-mortar presence, other retailers are enhancing their operations to address their online-commerce needs. Macy’s, for example, late last year announced plans to open a new eCommerce fulfillment center in Oklahoma to support omnichannel growth.

“The rapid growth of Macy’s direct-to-customer shipments, rooted in our omnichannel approach to business, requires us to continue to strategically add fulfillment capacity so our customers can receive their orders quickly and efficiently,” Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s, said a Dec.17 statement.

Moreover, Target Corp., which, like other retailers that include Walmart and Kohl’s, has seen its in-store sales decline, is working to accelerate its own digital transformation and become a leading omnichannel retailer. Various pilots are underway where Target is testing different delivery methods to help keep up with market-demand changes. The company is testing store pickup of online-purchased items with staff in Minneapolis, and it plans to expand that test this month to include customers.

Other omnichannel efforts among traditional brick-and-mortar stores include shipping online orders directly from stores. The Gap, for example, late last year piloted such an effort, along with enabling customers to place items online on hold for pickup at stores later.

Small-town shop revival?

It’s possible that eventually traditional online-only retailers could partner with companies that have local brick-and-mortar locations so their customers could pick up online orders there. Such arrangements would alleviate the need for online retailers to invest in real estate and in-store staff, while giving local businesses added foot traffic. With malls seeing their shopping traffic down, could such arrangements help revive shops operating in small-town squares? Branded manufacturers already arrange pickups of their online orders with their authorized retail locations, so why not expand on the concept through deals with unaffiliated online and offline businesses?

On June 17, PYMNTS.com’s Karen Webster will hold a live discussion with Forte’s CEO Jeff Thorness, who will explain how specific data, together with new technology, can help retailers understand and master omnichannel experience. Click here to register.

Vantiv also recently produced a white paper outlining what a typical day might look like for the omnichannel consumer and how merchants can address their needs.

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