Vantiv Omnicommerce Tracker™ - January 2017
Omnichannel, Sans Store
Every month, Vantiv and PYMNTS.com team up to deliver the latest news in omnicommerce. Here's an overview of the Omnicommerce Tracker™ published in January 2017.
Despite the complexity of implementing omnicommerce strategies, retailers continue to pursue the goal of making consumers’ shopping experiences – whether online, via mobile devices or in-store – consistent and enjoyable.
And some are choosing to go digital without the benefits and expenses of physical stores. While not having physical retail locations saves e-tailers money on overhead costs including rent, furnishings, store upkeep and employee payroll, it also poses some challenges.
According to Kristin Richmer, head of awareness marketing at Zappos, omnicommerce goals for e-tailers are largely the same as those of physical store retailers, although the methods they use to meet these goals are different.
Richmer notes that the foundation of the company’s omnichannel strategy comes down to providing optimal customer service. A lack of retail locations means customers can’t shop for products at Zappos stores as they might at traditional retailers. As a solution, e-tailers like Zappos are implementing flexible exchange and return policies.
“If a customer isn’t sure if they are an eight, eight-and-a-half, or nine in a certain shoe, they can order one of each of those sizes, even more in both medium and wide, and try them all on and return all that don’t fit,” she says. “We offer free shipping going both ways, both for purchases and for returns, and we do something called advanced exchange, which allows them to buy with some confidence.”
While providing free returns and exchanges might be a pain point for some retailers, digital-only merchants like Zappos see it as an opportunity to work closely with their customers to fulfill their needs and, in turn, build brand loyalty.
“We want to match the pace and the needs of the customer,” Richmer says. “So if it’s the color that’s the problem and they want to talk about why they don’t like the color, we can do that, or if that customer is fast-paced and just wants to get this return done and order a new product, we want to do that as fast as we can.”
The company recently rolled out a new omnichannel feature designed to keep customers clicking back to the eCommerce site. In September 2016, it rolled out its first-ever loyalty and rewards program, Zappos Rewards, which allows customers to earn points that can be used for future purchases. Members of the rewards program also get free shipping on all purchases and returns, access to an expanded version of their return and exchange program, a dedicated customer service phone number and other perks designed to keep the company’s most loyal customers coming back and telling their friends.
The Las Vegas–based company also rolled out several promotions aimed at winning over holiday shoppers, including its price-matching program — a staple holiday promotion for many retailers. But competing with physical retailers can mean more than just rolling out special promotions.
Last holiday season, the company launched a new promotion called “Pawlidayz,” which offered customers an easy and low-cost way to adopt a pet around the holidays.
“When we do these awareness-related events or promotions, we want to make sure we’re doing things that resonate with our customers,” Richmer explains. “So that’s where things like the Pawlidayz campaign come from, because we’ve learned our customers have a high affinity for animal rescues, so we wanted to take part in this promotion and give them a way to do that through our company.”
Richmer notes that Pawlidayz brought in new customers and pleased preexisting customers because the promotion had nothing to do with Zappos’ offering or with the commercialization that dominates Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“From Black Friday through Cyber Monday, we were trending on Facebook and around the social world, and it had nothing to do with product and nothing to do with people getting in crazy fights outside of retail stores for the last TV,” Richmer says. “Those are the things that are typically trending that weekend, and it was exciting for us to receive attention while raising awareness for a much-needed cause.”
The company recently rolled out its newest awareness-focused promotion, the Friends with Benefits Road Show. It’s a road trip with events in several American cities featuring live music, local food and, once again, pet adoption. It’s all designed to build loyalty among Zappos’ customer base.
“We want to shake their hands, give them really big high-fives and meet their friends — delivering happiness and memorable experiences along the way,” Richmer says.
Here are some other updates from the world of omnicommerce:
- Software AG released six predictions for the New Year, including the headline forecast that retailers will continue to look toward Amazon’s sales and fulfillment and new channel models to make progress in the coming year. Other predictions include an increase in conversational commerce via social media, real-time inventory searches, and an increase in tech gadgets and internet of things (IoT) devices in retail stores.
- The Pew Research Center released a report on the increase of consumers shopping online or with a smartphone. Nearly 80 percent of adult shoppers in the U.S. have made a purchase online, which is a stark increase from 22 percent of shoppers when Pew first conducted the survey in 2000. In addition, nearly one-quarter of respondents said they made “no purchases using cash during a typical week.”
- Convenience chain 7-Eleven completed 77 drone deliveries in Reno, Nev., over the course of one month. The drone flights were completed in collaboration with drone maker and 7-Eleven partner Flirtey and were the first regular commercial drone delivery service to fly in the U.S. In a statement, Flirtey reported that the average drone delivery time was under 10 minutes after the order was initially placed at a 7-Eleven. So far, customers have reportedly ordered food, beverages and over-the-counter medications for drone delivery.