Fashion’s next frontier may be a conscious, collective shift to omnichannel — and, if so, companies such as NewStore, an enterprise omnichannel retail solution firm, will be perfectly positioned when traditional retail sheds its skin.
Led by retail and technology industry veteran Stephan Schambach, the firm’s founder and chief executive officer, NewStore’s omnichannel offerings include all the bells and whistles, such as customization, clienteling, mobile checkout and omni-order management, which enables consumers to buy from anywhere, ship from anywhere, and incorporates fulfillment options such as buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS).
Its omnichannel platform also extends more modern retail amenities to its brands, such as endless aisle, or selling items that aren’t available in the store, and remote selling via chat, which are both “highly desirable,” according to NewStore; and its powers combined can increase sales per square foot by 20 to 30 percent, the firm said.
But perhaps its greatest differentiator is its emphasis on mobile: Schambach said its brands can run their businesses entirely on iPhones, which could be the catalyst that speedily thrusts retail into a better, brighter future.
Here, Schambach talks to WWD about the narrative behind NewStore, evolution of omnichannel, and what’s trending in retail.
WWD: What was the genesis of NewStore?
Stephan Schambach: At my former company, Demandware (now Salesforce Commerce Cloud), we observed that vertically integrated brands began mostly as wholesale-only. Then, they engaged in e-commerce, which for many was the first time they had a direct connection to their end customers. Next came the desire to connect online and off-line. However, this was very difficult for brands if they only had wholesale partners or franchise stores. As a logical consequence, some brands opened their own stores. So, we saw this movement toward 100 percent consumer direct. It is much easier to attract new customers with a mix of online and owned stores compared to online-only with a dependency on wholesale.
Overall, we know shoppers expect more from retail. On the one hand, they want online and off-line to be completely, seamlessly integrated. On the other hand, they want a form of e-commerce when they frequent stores. These connected customer service and convenience features are very hard for retailers to get right. When you bring cloud and mobile into the picture, it is possible to build a beautiful, integrated, omnichannel platform where stores are run more like an extension of the e-commerce website.
WWD: Omnichannel has picked up considerably in the last year. How is NewStore differentiated among other omnichannel solutions in the market?
S.S.: First and foremost, our brands can run their stores entirely on smartphones — iPhones to be exact. There are no cash registers and every store associate can do anything and everything with just an app. And not just point-of-sale. They can access inventory from other stores or the website and sell it in the same transaction. They can also engage in phone-to-phone payments without needing a terminal, and they can complete returns and exchanges.
When the customer leaves the store, they can chat with them and be helpful with accessories or customer service issues. If you think about it, it’s really expanding what stores are and what store associates can do. It is also adding two forms of e-commerce to the experience: endless aisle, selling items that aren’t available in the store, and remote selling via chat. Both of these are highly desirable and combined can increase sales per square foot by 20 to 30 percent.
WWD: Are there any notable trends or issues facing the industry right now in the market?
S.S.: The industry right now is very much focused on dealing with COVID-19. The holiday season was also rather disappointing for many brands. Yes, they had double-digit increases on the e-commerce side, but it didn’t make up for their losses overall. So, they’re focused on digging themselves out. We do have wide-scale vaccination campaigns happening right now but most brands are simply trying to survive or make the right decisions until things are more normal.
Some very visionary brands, our customers among them, have used this time to invest in better omnichannel solutions. Our customers all ship from their stores and have the capabilities to keep associates productive even when doors are closed. Not only this, but they also are able to serve the new customer who wants to pay with their phone. Every brand will have to be able to do this going forward.
WWD: What will we see next from NewStore?
S.S.: We are excited that many of the trends we’ve been banking on have been accelerated by COVID-19. Things like touchless payments and knowing how to utilize a QR code. Some of the trends we thought might take years to become habits have since been adopted in a very short period of time. So, we are really looking forward to the near future when we can massively roll-out NewStore with many, many brands. As an omnichannel platform, we are well-positioned for a retail world in which omnichannel is the only model for retail success.
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