Two Worlds Unite — How an omnichannel approach is key in Customer Relationship Building
Fashion retailers need to bridge the gap between their online and offline channels to compete in a “phygital” world—in which consumers of all generations want to be treated as individuals.
A term coined by WGSN, “phygital” is emblematic of an era in which brands can’t ignore or sacrifice online for offline and vice versa. An omnichannel approach is key in building longer lasting and more meaningful relationships with consumers, whose lifestyles are diverse and nuanced.
Online retail has broken down barriers of convenience, time, and geographical location for the artisan and multi-brand retailers alike—yet consumers’ desires to have physical experiences has reframed the purpose of retail. In a “phygital” world, retail becomes a space that facilitates experiences and building meaningful customer relationships, as opposed to destination. In the context of this new structure, fashion retailers need to unite their online and offline channels to create a seamless and personalised brand experience.
The first step in bridging the gap between on and offline is creating a cohesive brand identity that flows between website and bricks and mortar. This means translating the experience a consumer would receive in-store, to website. Just as visual merchandising is crucial in store, the structure and content of brands’ websites shouldn’t fail to neglect their visual identity. Crockett and Jones translate their identity centred on British craftsmanship, to a website that’s contemporary yet reminiscent of the brand’s heritage. Through considered use of imagery and tutorial guides, the brand utilises storytelling to weave a cohesive visual identity throughout their clean and contemporary website, which still reflects its history and origins.
The next phase that brands often overlook is E-commerce. It is a lengthy process that doesn’t reap instant ROI, but is essential in the future growth of retailers. Following a sound E-commerce foundation is content creation and curation, paving the way for a crucial omnichannel approach that offers a seamless brand experience flowing between on and offline.
Bricks and mortar has been reframed in the context of a world in which the omnipresence of smartphone screens and online browsing leaves consumers craving physical experiences. The physical store should be utilised as a space that fosters deeper relationships with customers, which is no better exemplified than in exclusive retail. Luxury Chinese brand Shanghai Tang’s Tailoring Atelier offers a private space in which made to measure Chinese couture with a modern twist takes centre stage. Working alongside its E-commerce platform, the atelier unites heritage and fashion through exclusive retail which centres on building customer relationships and a personalised experience.
Whilst luxury fashion retail in particular is often associated with a personalised physical experience, retailers aren’t blind to the importance of creating a personalised digital experience that works alongside other channels. Data is key to offering audiences personalisation online, but it isn’t worth anything if brands don’t have a grasp of the identities and personalities of their consumers. Without face to face interactions that help brands personalise their customer experience in physical retail, brands can struggle to get the technical and cultural foundations of digital personalisation right.
Yet, the possibilities that the digital sphere presents are endless, and it can be more of a personalised experience that compliments a physical one. Personalising consumers’ digital brand experience can create a point of difference in a saturated, social media centric online space. Retailers have a crucial opportunity to deliver curated content that makes consumers feel special and individual, even in the digital realm. Last year Farfetch started working with Certona with the aim of “humanising retail”, utilising artificial intelligence and personalisation to enable brands to make complex product suggestions across all customer touch points.
The omnichannel approach allows fashion retailers to provide entry points for different consumers, adapting to their diverse and ever-evolving lifestyles. In a “phygital” world, a website that reflects a brand’s identity is as important as a well curated physical space that fosters meaningful customer relationships. Personalisation is key, whether it be tailored product suggestions online, or an exclusive experience in a physical space. It’s no surprise that consumers’ needs are changing, and fashion retailers are expected to provide a wholesome and seamless brand experience that values the individuality of its audiences.