Meet the retailers offering a seamless omnichannel service

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Here’s how brands deliver a smart, integrated omnichannel sales approach

 

The term ‘omnichannel’ has become part of modern retail parlance over the past decade, but since COVID-19 it’s become especially critical for retailers to offer diversified capabilities.

 

But what does great omnichannel retail really look like?

 

We speak to two retailers nailing a seamless omnichannel strategy and bolstering sales – and look at some of Australia’s leading omnichannel brands.

 

“You can’t just be on one channel”

Mike Smith of household products brand Zero Co takes a non-traditional, omnichannel approach

 

This new start-up is barely out of the blocks, but Zero Co has rolled out an impressive omnichannel strategy that will see it hit seven-figure revenue this year.

 

Launched by serial entrepreneur Mike Smith in May 2020, Zero Co sells environmentally friendly cleaning and personal products, from laundry liquid to body wash.

 

The idea came to Smith while he was trekking through remote wilderness areas and saw firsthand the extent of the world’s single-use plastic problem. He launched the brand by raising $742,000 via Kickstarter, and today Zero Co products have been purchased by 32,000 Australian households.

 

Smith has taken an omnichannel approach from the start. He uses Facebook and Instagram to create a loyal brand following and to drive sign-ups, and an on-site chatbot to answer customer questions.

 

He has also taken non-traditional approaches to reaching prospective customers by partnering with charities and major brands, such as ANZ bank and Virgin Australia, to have his products placed in branches and airline lounges, respectively. Smith also organises elaborate, high-profile clean-up events, which have not only removed tonnes of plastic and rubbish from the environment, but garnered money-can’t-buy mainstream media coverage.

 

Smith plans to expand his reach even further. He is in conversations with major supermarket chains about stocking his products and plans to roll out retail concept stores in key locations in CBD areas.

 

“The world of traditional retail has definitely been interrupted and disrupted by a growing number of non-traditional channels. You can’t just be on one channel. You need to be where your customer is.”

 

“We’re essentially a software company in the art space”

Bluethumb sells artworks online and in physical spaces. Here’s how

 

Online art gallery Bluethumb understands the importance of meeting its customers where they are.

 

Co-founder George Hartley launched the business with an online-only strategy in 2012, before building out its payment options, including Afterpay (which produced a five per cent lift in sales) and then launching social media channels.

 

It wasn’t until 2019 that the business opened its first bricks-and-mortar art gallery in Melbourne, and since then Bluethumb has added SMS, print advertising and even QR codes to its growing list of customer touchpoints.

 

The QR codes work like this: when an artist’s work hangs in a public space, the price and details of the artwork can be accessed by scanning the QR with a smartphone. This entrepreneurial approach (some artworks have even hung in independent Melbourne supermarkets) has lifted sales significantly.

 

Hartley says that optimising the site’s mobile experience and checkout - with Apple, GooglePay and Afterpay - has been vital, because organic search and social media are key discovery channels. Email and SMS are the brand’s highest converting channels.

 

The most important thing to remember is, wherever you meet your customers, you need to create a clear brand aesthetic and voice so you’re instantly recognisable – right from the top of funnel messaging in your online ads right down to your customer service team on the phone, says Hartley.

 

“We’re essentially a software company in the art space, so we use a lot of software and tech – much of which is built in-house by our team of developers – to achieve our omnichannel strategy.”

 

Other successful omnichannel retailers include:

 

Country Road

Australian retailer Country Road offers a range of omnichannel capabilities, from a successful loyalty programme, which can be used in-store and online, to click-and-collect services and the ability for customers to return items bought online, in-store.

 

Mecca

Beauty emporium Mecca is dedicated to excellent customer service, regardless of whether that’s delivered online or in real life. Mecca offers a range of experiential touchpoints, from Meccaland – a party for 15,000 beauty lovers held every year – to its online events and seminars.

 

The brand experience is consistent across its platforms and stores, and its loyalty programme, Beauty Loop, also operates across online and in its 100+ bricks-and-mortar stores around Australia.

 

Cotton On

In the past few years, Cotton On has doubled down on personalisation, including the launch of a loyalty programme, Cotton On Perks, as well as mobile apps, which help drive customers in-store.

 

The global clothing retailer also offers a range of omnichannel capabilities such as endless aisle (the ability to sell items not available in-store) and a store-stock-checker functionality.

 

Nina Hendy is a business journalist who has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and more

 

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