Can you talk about why Hallenstein Glasson has reacted so quickly to the omnichannel trend?
Hallenstein Glasson has always reacted quickly to trends in the market. I am not sure we can call omnichannel a trend anymore: the term itself is a trend, the ideas behind it are not. We are simply enabling each customer to shop however they deem appropriate. Breaking down the barriers to online shopping is often seen as an omnichannel experience - for example, we enable customers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to purchase online and have their purchases delivered same day between 6pm and 9pm in the evening. If we offer this online, why not offer it instore? We show no bias to how a customer chooses to interact with us.
Is Hallenstein Glasson interested in personalisation? Why or why not?
Hallenstein Glassons currently uses a number of personalisation techniques, some subtle, some not so subtle. The key is to use personalisation in such a way that it is not seen as invasive or creepy. We are still very much in the ‘discover and learn’ phases of personalisation - it is something we are constantly discussing and testing.
What’s your opinion on in-store gadgets like beacons and free wifi to track customer movements?
Gadgets are gadgets until they provide a purpose. I love discovering and working with new technology, but we have to constantly ask ourselves, “Is this something the customer is going to want and interact with?” We have free wifi throughout our store network but this is used as a value-add service for our customers. We don’t envisage this technology being used to track the location of our customers. While I like the idea of beacons, I am yet to see them being used in a retail environment effectively.
A big part of omnichannel is an emphasis on offering a seamless experience across bricks and mortar and web. Do you feel like Hallenstein Glasson has achieved that goal across all its brands?
I strongly believe we are a long way down this process, but it is one that will always be evolving. We are extremely proud of where we have got to and are excited for what the future holds in this space. We try to make sure one brand does not surpass the others in terms of its omnichannel journey and, where appropriate, we draw on the scale that we can provide with having three distinct brands in the group.
This story originally appeared in NZRetail magazine issue 744 June / July 2016