A new report by omnichannel platform NewStore has detailed the retail brands that were found to be paving the way in omnichannel capabilities.
Now in its eighth edition, the firm’s ‘2023 Omnichannel Leadership Report’ audited the operations of 300 luxury, premium and lifestyle retail brands in North America, with the goal of assessing the industry’s progress towards digital transformation.
The research itself was carried out by a group of third-party mystery shoppers, who analysed each brand’s online, app and in-store shopping experiences.
Brands were then assigned a rank and score across each of the report’s categories, with Hibbett Sports, Shoe Carnival, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora and Lululemon making up the list’s top five.
According to NewStore, these retailers had shown “strength in the face of the macro environmental forces that have upended the retail industry”, with each having started digital transformations prior to the pandemic resulting in some form of success.
For example, Hibbett, which topped the list, underwent digitalisation in 2017, while Shoe Carnival doubled down on its efforts in 2014 by utilising its stores as fulfilment centres and launching a mobile app.
Meanwhile, those who had not made substantial changes three to four years ago, and had instead relied on quarter-by-quarter decision-making, were said to have faced headwinds and slowed their pace of omnichannel implementation.
The report's key findings, in terms of online experience, were that just over half of the brands assessed offered order pick-up in-stores, with 72 percent also offering in-store returns for online orders. Meanwhile, just 33 percent of brands had a mobile shopping app.
Additionally, 32 percent of store associates used mobile devices, and 16 percent of stores offered customers mobile checkout.
"Uncertainty is the new normal in retail…”
NewStore also said that it defined its findings by market segment, with its data showing that retailers in the ‘Basic’ and ‘Luxury’ segments had driven digital transformation, while those in ‘Mid-market’ and ‘Premium’ had “stagnated”.
It noted that ‘Basic’ brands were “all-in” on mobile apps in a bid to get closer to customers and enrich their online shopping experience. These brands were typically found to cater to Millennials, who were the most likely to engage with shopping apps and responded well to personalised mobile communication.
Meanwhile, the report suggested that luxury brands needed to be willing to adapt to digitalisation, with the segment reportedly deprioritising its online presence by focusing on fashion over function.
NewStore said those in the segment needed to double down on offering the same level of omnichannel experiences as those in other segments in order to stay relevant.
"Uncertainty is the new normal in retail, and the industry will only face more disruption. The 2023 Omnichannel Leadership Report should be a wake-up call for the brands that have not future-proofed their businesses," said Stephan Schambach, founder and CEO, NewStore, in the report’s release.
Schambach continued: "Especially those that think multichannel is the same as omnichannel. Without an integrated approach to physical, digital, and mobile, brands will struggle to find long-term business profitability."