Omnichannel Retailing 1
Omnichannel Retailing: A New Trend in Retail
Thomas Edison State College
Omnichannel Retailing 2
Selling to consumers has evolved from door-to-door, to catalog, to retail sales. Recently,
e-commerce has been added for the purpose of reaching the consumer through a new venue.
Omnichannel retailing is the next big trend in the industry. By employing omnichannel retailing,
a business can merge physical stores, online content and mobile devices into one experience
(Palmer, 2014). It will be a game changer for the industry and essentially brings together:
physical stores, web sites, computers, social media, online catalogs, gaming consoles, kiosks and
mobile technology under one umbrella and redefines both how a consumer interacts while
shopping and how they will be reached.
Omnichannel retailing does not exclude a bricks and mortar store like traditional e-commerce
nor does it consider it a showroom where the customer goes to preview the product
prior to purchase. A bricks and mortar store is one of the tools that is used for marketing and
becomes stronger when supplemented with online content and mobile devices. For the
organization and its supply chain members it means erasing the line between offline and online
and providing an experience to help match the consumer with a product. It also means that a
business must embrace data, analytics and mobile, and integrate them into its commerce (Green,
Culturally, omnichannel retailing is more intrusive for the consumer, but it has the ability
to provide for a simpler and better informed shopping experience. Regalado reports that Macy’s
places 24 different tracking cookies on a consumer’s web browser, and their mobile app
download is capable of finding the closest store and scanning barcodes for prices. Along these
lines, smartphones can be used to track movement throughout the store (Brynjolfsson, Hu and
Omnidirectional retailing will help retailers increase returns by helping the consumer find
a product, allowing them to research reviews and even providing them coupons or incentives as
they near a product (Regalado, 2013). By embracing technology, retailers can gain a competitive
advantage at the same time they are helping the consumer.
Omnichannel Retailing 3
Hointer is a jean retail store that combines a physical location with an array of digital
technology that helps to streamline the purchase process. The Hointer retail store does not
contain inventory in the showroom area; instead shoppers are exposed to one pair of jeans in
each style that is displayed open hanging at eye level. The customer first downloads the Hointer
app that allows them to continue their shopping experience. When customers find a pair of jeans
that they would like to try on, they use their phone to scan the etag that is on the jean. The app
then displays digital media information such as reviews, Facebook pictures and Twitter
comments about the product. If desired, the shopper then selects the size. The app tells the
customer which fitting room to go to as the jean is delivered through a patented Woosh delivery
system (Hointer, 2014). Upon entering the larger sized fitting room, the shopper can try on the
jeans to confirm the fit. If a different size is needed, the shopper uses the touchscreen in the
fitting room to select a new size and deposits the jeans in a slot. If consultation is needed an
Hointer associate is notified via a tablet and is informed which jeans were selected, allowing the
associate to immediately start an informed dialogue with the shopper. After selecting the pair of
jeans to purchase, the shopper proceeds to a kiosk in the store where their smart phone identifies
the items in the shopping cart and a credit card is swiped.
Hointer is ahead of the digital curve in applying omnichannel retailing techniques to its
business. It is proactive in initiating metrics through the download of their app. It then continues
by linking the shopper to social media to view pictures and opinions and also provides real-time
information about store stock and assistance if needed.
Hointer offers brand name jeans and one area that would benefit them is with
differentiation. However, Hointer has done that too by offering free hemming service. The jeans
can be hemmed to maintain the original hem length or hemmed with thread that matches the
existing stitching. In either case, the jeans can be picked up the next day or mailed to the shopper
free of charge. In all, Hointer blends the social, local and mobile aspects of omnichannel retailing
into an effective arrangement.
This type of arrangement might be suited for a restaurant with a simple menu. Customers
could come in and download the app, which tells them what table they will be sitting at. They
then could place their order by scanning an etag on the menu and even see reviews before
ordering. Once the order is filled, they could be served and request assistance and/or pay using
their phone. In this application, the restaurant would save on hosting and wait staff, helping them
to achieve a competitive advantage.
Becoming omnichannel is important for Walgreens as well. Walgreens has a significant
store presence with over 8,000 locations, so adding the digital component is beneficial.
Walgreens offers the full spectrum of shopping patterns from researching online / paying online
to researching online / looking in the store / then paying online. What Walgreens metrics have
shown is that customers who shop in stores and online spend 3.5 times more than store shoppers
only and shoppers that use mobile, store and web spend an average of 6 times more than store
only shoppers (Swerdlow, 2013).
Omnichannel Retailing 4
Walgreens was one of Apple’s first partners to use Apple Pay, which uses near field
communication (NFC) technology that allows for payment via phone (Samuely, 2014). Other
services that they offer are refilling of a prescription by scan and remote printing of pictures from
mobile devices and social media profiles that can be picked up in a store. By developing simple
mobile applications, Walgreens has streamlined the checkout experience and enhanced the
overall customer experience.
One channel that Walgreens could improve upon is to use Beacon technology that allows
Walgreens to track shoppers by their mobile device and send shoppers information and offers
when they are near a particular product. Using this same technology, Walgreens could send
offers to shoppers when they are in proximity or leaving the store without making a purchase.
These applications can also be used in a supermarket. If a shopper is purchasing pasta,
the store may want to notify them of a special deal on sauce, Italian bread or even a manager’s
special. It would also allow the store to also collect analytic information such as the time spent
in the store and what aisles were visited and the variety or brands that were purchased.
Omnichannel Retailing 5
Brynjolfsson, E., Hu, Y. J., & Rahman, M. S. (2013, Summer). Competing in the Age of
Omnichannel Retailing. MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved November 21, 2014,
Green, J. (2014, January 27). Why and How Brands Must Go Omni-Channel in 2014. Marketing
Lands. Retrieved November 22, 2014, from http://marketingland.com/why-brands-should-
Hointer. Products. Hointer. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from http://www.hointer.com/
Palmer, M. (2014, November 14). Competition in retail space heats up. Financial Times.
Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/32731e0c-634b-
Regalado, A. (2013, November 14). Beyond the Checkout Cart. MIT Technology Review.
Retrieved November 21, 2014 from http://www.technologyreview.com/news/520786/its-all-
Samuely, A. (2014, November 5). Walgreens exec: NFC payments doubled following Apple Pay
integration. Mobile Commerce Daily. Retrieved November 22, 2014, from
Swerdlow, F. (2013, Frbruary 5). The Walgreens Path to Omnichannel Success. National Retail
Federation. Retrieved November 22, 2014, from https://nrf.com/news/mobile/the-walgreens-