Thriving or just surviving in the omnichannel age means offering comprehensive in-store and online features that both engage customers and connect them with brands.
To earn their devotion, shoppers demand that retailers offer features to make their shopping trips easier, more enjoyable and more personalized — and, at least as things stand right now, clothing companies are far from meeting those expectations. According to the latest Omni Usage Index™, consumers are unhappy with clothing companies’ capabilities, giving apparel and accessories retailers an average satisfaction score of just 37.9 out of 100.
Some retailers are looking to buck that trend by investing in technology and services that offer shoppers a more personalized online browsing experience — and give them the mobile features they crave during in-store interactions. That includes Canadian clothing designer and retailer Frank And Oak, a company that has worked to make omnichannel a key part of its offerings since its founding in February 2012.
According to Ethan Song, Frank And Oak’s founder and CEO, that means providing online shoppers with the types of personalized recommendations they typically only receive from store associates, as well as giving in-store shoppers access to mobile and online-based features.
Giving online shoppers a more personalized experience
When Song first met co-founder and COO Hicham Ratnani, the pair planned to build a business around offering clothing shoppers — specifically men — a better, easier way to buy products online. Frank And Oak later expanded, debuting a line of for women in 2016.
Song wanted to give customers more than what many companies were offering to their eCommerce shoppers — namely, a stale menu of products without much in the way of one-on-one service.
“We quickly realized that when it comes to an online store, it’s not just about having a catalog,” he explained. “So, our focus has been on delivering a customer experience that adds value.”
That value has largely come through product recommendations tailored to fit individual shoppers’ tastes. Frank And Oak enables customers to create profiles with their shopping preferences which the company updates based on items purchased or viewed. It also sends customers a personalized e-newsletter offering product recommendations.
In addition, Frank And Oak provides a subscription service that delivers hand-selected outfits from stylists — based on customer preferences and profiles — to subscribers’ doors each month. Its website features a “LiveChat” feature displayed when each customer first visits, giving them easy access to member services, answers to questions and product recommendations.
“We found that recommendations — and providing a service that helps customers to find the products they love — is something of great value to [them],” Song said. “That’s how we built a lot of our services, and really our brand, online.”
Giving in-store shoppers connected capabilities
But for Frank And Oak, as with the bulk of other retailers, online customers aren’t the only focus. After all, brick-and-mortar sales still drive overall retail sales. That has meant boosting in-store experience by weaving in mobile-powered features, giving shoppers the best parts of the online experience, too.
The company worked to add more mobile features in its in-store experience after receiving feedback from its shoppers, many of whom indicated that they enjoyed getting product recommendations based on their purchasing histories.
“What links all our different channels together is offering integrated profiles that can track their tastes and activity,” Song explained. “No matter where customers shop, they shop via the same profile online, mobile or in-store, and we have integrated product inventory that allows customers to order from our online inventory while they’re in-store.”
The brand seeks to draw shoppers into their stores, and to do so outside of tech-focused features, he added. The goal is to make clothing shoppers think of Frank And Oak, even when they aren’t in the market to buy a new pair of pants.
“We want to drive customers to come back to us and interact with our brand,” Song said. “One of the things we’re seeing in our data is that most of our customers don’t need to buy a shirt every week. So, we do a lot of different community events to try and get people following the brand and into our stores.”
Omni days to come
The company plans to continue to implement omni-focused features to retain current brand devotees and lure in new. Most recently, Frank And Oak received an investment of $20 million CAD (roughly $15.6 million USD) from a team of investors led by Goodwater Capital and Investissement Québec. Song said the company will use the infusion to boost development of digital experiences, tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies to incorporate into the firm’s omnichannel experience.
“We’ve found our customers have busy lives, and they need help or want help finding high-quality products, [and] fast,” Song said. “So, anything we can do to help them find those products can be a great value to both us and our customers.”
If shopper data is any indication, the right cocktail of products and features will be crucial for companies hoping to compete in the future of omnichannel. Whether it’s presenting customers with a new shirt or a new mobile app, clothing companies’ offerings need to fit selective shoppers just right.
About the Report
The Omni Developer Report™, a Vantiv collaboration, is designed to provide the payments ecosystem with a view into how software developers are using new technologies to create innovative business opportunities and enable merchants to optimize the ways in which they engage with shoppers today. The developer community within the report is separated into three categories: Shopping and Payments, Operations and Marketing.
The report also features the latest news and highlights about influential developers, along with a directory with information on key providers, their capabilities and a score for each firm.