Some might consider omnichannel retailing a buzzword floating around the industry, but the reality is that it’s kind of a big deal.
Vend retail expert and content strategist Francesca Nicasio says it’s one of the top two trends being spotted among retail businesses in New Zealand.
In simple terms, omnichannel is the marriage of online and offline channels that allows customers to seamlessly switch between the two.
She says Auckland’s Bird On A Wire is already on top of this trend. The takeaway free range rotisserie company allows customers to order their food over the phone, online, or on their mobile phones on an app created by Mobi2Go, then have it delivered or pick it up in store.
There’s also the growing popularity of the click and collect option now being offered by The Warehouse and major supermarket players like Countdown are offering.
Vend predicts companies that master omnichannel strategies and merge their online and offline experiences to be the big winners.
Nicasio says New Zealanders are also getting into another major trend, personalised loyalty programmes.
The scope for loyalty programmes is extending beyond just offering points per purchase and retailers are starting to get more creative and personalised in their customer rewards.
Hamilton-based family business and candy shop, United Sweets, has a personalised loyalty rewards system that tailors rewards to its customers.
CEO Finn Puklowski says the rewards system helps United Sweets to recognize the best customers, look after them, give them better pricing, give them rewards and make sure they have a positive experience while shopping.
In the United States, companies are going to extreme lengths to reward their customers in a unique way.
Pharmacy giant Walgreens ‘Balance Rewards’ programme rewards users with points when they’re active and doing things like walking and weight tracking.
As for New Zealand’s future trends, Nicasio says mobile wallets have not yet materialised as Apple Pay and other mobile payment methods aren’t available.
To use their iPhone as a mobile wallet, customers can wave it instead of a card in front of a wireless reader, and then secure the transaction with a fingerprint.
The new payment system launched in the US in October last year. Apple says more than 220,000 locations now accept Apple Pay, but it has not yet announced a launch date for New Zealand.
Vend head of marketing Nick Houldsworth says some of the Kiwi companies at the forefront of these trends are Crane Brothers, Sitka and Glassons.
“These guys are leading the way when it comes to adopting retail technology and with major overseas names like Topshop hitting our shores soon, the ability for local brands to adapt and evolve will really separate them out from run of the mill retailers,” he says.
So, which trend should retailers prioritise? Nicasio says it’s not a one size fits all solution.
“If the retailer is just beginning and they don’t even have a website, their priority would be to switch to cloud-based software to automate how they do business. If the business is more advanced, it should focus on omnichannel and make sure its online and offline channels are connected,” she says.
She says it’s important to have a digital presence, as customers are using digital channels to research, browse and shop. However, retailers shouldn’t be focusing on just digital, as bricks and mortar stores are still equally important.
“Amazon is setting up stores offline and so is Google, so definitely don’t discount bricks and mortar,” she says.
To view the full list of trends, click here.