Nike's House of Innovation in New York.

In an “omnichannel assessment” of 200 of the top luxury and fashion brands, NewStore found that while the industry as a whole is moving in the “right direction” many companies are lagging behind in delivering a true, cross-channel experience for consumers.

In the NewStore report, researchers at the “Omnichannel as a Service Provider” studied various consumer touchpoints, which included product and brand discovery, purchase, fulfillment, consumer engagement and associate mobility — such as inventory visibility, mobile checkout, clienteling information, etc.

The brands that scored the highest in the assessment were Nike, Athleta, Moncler, Louis Vuitton and Banana Republic.

“From front-end mobile tech like its Nike App to back-of-the-house data and analytics capabilities, the brand is writing the playbook for how to successfully unite digital and physical retail,” authors of the report said. “Just look at its New York City flagship, which boasts six floors of experiences including customizations at the Sneaker Bar and digital Pick Up Lockers. Nike is winning at the engagement, efficiency and experience game, and what it has built is marveled by consumers and retailers alike.”

NewStore researchers noted that as part of its DTC strategy, Nike has spent $1 billion transforming its omnichannel capabilities. For Athleta, authors of the report said the “Gap Inc. gem continues to invest in business areas that set it apart from its industry counterparts, such as sustainability and inclusivity.”

“Additionally, it’s one of the first brands in its parent company’s portfolio to run its stores on mobile, connecting shoppers with high-demand products and demonstrating its commitment to socially responsible activity,” the researchers said.

Moncler Genius RTW Fall 2019

Moncler Genius RTW Fall 2019  Courtesy Photo

In the case of Moncler, NewStore cited the leadership of Remo Ruffini, chief executive officer, for the brand’s reinvention. “The culmination [of that reinvention] is the Genius project, which required significant capital investment in IT and omnichannel platforms,” NewStore noted. “Moncler now has a regular dialogue with shoppers through innovative product drops and designer collaborations. Much of this happens in-store, where associates leverage RFID technology to track and access deep inventory as well as clienteling solutions to keep shoppers inspired and wanting more.”

With Louis Vuitton, NewStore said the brand “has long prioritized making its customer journey seamless across channels, a task most other luxury brands reserve for their stores. Louis Vuitton store associates are able to see a 360-degree view of the shopper, both for owned stores and department stores.”

In regard to Banana Republic, the authors of the report said the brand “caters to its customers’ wants and needs by offering solutions that bridge the in-store and digital realms of shopping. Most notable is the ability to reserve in-store items from the web, as well as buy online pickup in-store [BOPIS].”

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Some of the findings of the overall report were startling. The assessment revealed that 76 percent of brands “do not have a store locator on their mobile app, a truly surprising statistic since apps are the easiest bridge between online and off-line,” NewStore said. And just 25 percent of store associates of the brands assessed “can contact a customer outside the store, still low given the popularity of SMS.”

With payments, 74 percent of the brands studied allow the use of digital payments, “which is a big step forward for the industry,” the report stated. And with mobile, 68 percent of store associates “use a mobile device or a tablet, finally more than the percentage of consumers using mobile in-store [60 percent per secondary research].”

The report also found that 56 percent of the brands assessed offer BOPIS, “although more suggest they do but they really hack the process,” the authors of the report said.

“It’s become crystal clear to the industry that in order to survive the new retail world order, having an omnichannel experience is table stakes,” the researchers said. “While this knowledge abounds, we’ve heard more talk than we’ve seen action. That’s not to say there hasn’t been progress. Our assessment of over 200 brands shows modest growth and some extremely inspiring bright spots. The trajectory of the industry is in the right direction.”

One area cited as needed room for improvement is the purchase phase, “where most brands are grossly underperforming across channels,” NewStore said. “Also, despite more associates having access to mobile devices on the store floor, they are limited in the tasks they can use them for. This is hindering many brands from elevating their store staff into a living web site, point of sale, call center and fulfillment source.”

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