April 03, 2014

Omnichannel: La Gran Plaza

Give this ditty a read (click here).

How does the last paragraph begin?

  • "Hispanic-Oriented entertainment is a huge component ..."
Entertainment.

Omnichannel is not going to be a sterile concept about using a retail store as a digital fulfillment center for a boring e-commerce website.

Nope.

Retail must entertain. With way, way too much square footage and a modest amount of online competition, there's absolutely no reason for a customer to get in a car, drive somewhere, and be bored out of their minds by products that are readily available on a mobile device anywhere in the world!

Seriously. Think about the message. Jennifer gets in her car on a Saturday afternoon, drives twenty minutes to a local shopping center, finds parking, and makes her way to her favorite Ann Taylor store, where she quickly learns that the Modern Shrug she wanted (click here) is not available in her size. She invested an hour or more of her time to find out that her retail store didn't think highly enough of her to stock her size/color combination ... a size/color combination that was represented to her on the Ann Taylor website just two hours earlier. What is the omnichannel solution? Have a woefully under-compensated sales associate walk over with an iPad and offer to get the item shipped to the customer from another store, from the website, or to have the item available for pickup at another store?

Put yourself in Jennifer's shoes. That's not a solution, that's an irritation!

I know, I know, Ann Taylor should make sure that Jennifer knows on the website that the size/color combination is not available in her local store, so that Jennifer never gets in her car and visits the store in the first place. Yup - that's an operationally elegant solution - but think about it - it's a solution that keeps Jennifer out of the store, and ultimately, reduces store traffic, which reduces store buzz, which causes anybody in the mall to say that "there's absolutely nobody shopping in the Ann Taylor store, why should I bother to go in there?"

That's the cold, sterile path that the current iteration of omnichannel offers us.

At La Gran Plaza, customers are entertained.

We're going to have to figure out how to entertain customers. 

Omnichannel is easy, compared to figuring out how to entertain a customer enough to get the customer to get into a car and drive twenty minutes to a store.

We have to figure out how to entertain a customer.

Entertainment fuels engagement. Engagement is like free marketing. As Glenn Glieber might say ... "I love free marketing!"