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Gift of the gab: Acquisition's Bruce Hetfield on omnichannel

  • News
  • September 8, 2016
  • Elly Strang
Gift of the gab: Acquisition's Bruce Hetfield on omnichannel

Tell me about where your company is at with omnichannel retail. Do you think you’re ahead of the curve, offering an acceptable level of omnichannel service or not really engaging with the trend yet?

About five to six years ago we began a serious effort to integrate online services into what we do. Since then we’ve worked hard to build and refine a solid online presence that matches and represents our bricks and mortar presence. In 2014 we won an Omnichannel Retailer of the Year Award in the Top Shop Awards, and in 2015 we took the runner-up spot in Otago/Southland. I would say that we take our omnichannel presence seriously and are certainly up there with the leaders.

Is there a strong demand from your customers for omnichannel services? 

For those customers that do have an understanding of ‘omnichannel’, or digital services, I don’t know if I would describe it as a ‘strong demand’ more than I would say it was simply an expectation. Other customers, who perhaps don’t have an understanding of omnichannel, are happily surprised when they discover that the store they visit is able to source a product from the other end of the country and then have a custom sale created on our website for them to purchase it and have it delivered directly to them.

A big part of omnichannel is an emphasis on offering a seamless experience across bricks and mortar and web. How is your company tackling this goal?

We try, as much as we can, to match the level of service we offer in stores to our online services. We constantly reinforce within all staff that they should consider web sales and online enquiries just as important as a face-to-face selling. We also keep the standards of gift wrapping and packaging high. We always use new cartons and packaging for web sales, in an effort to let online customers know that they weren’t an after thought, or second-best. We also aim to ensure that our branding and tone-of-voice is cohesive across all physical stores and online platforms.

What kind of voice does your brand use on social media? Describe it.

Early on we developed a brand personality and tone-of-voice for our social media. We are essentially an entertainment store so we chose to present ourselves in a personal, witty, somewhat self-depreciating, and oftentimes-irreverent way. We take gift selling seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

What are some ways you’re personalising service online? 

Some ways we are personalising to the individual user are: Offering payment by credit card, PayPal, POLi (internet banking), and gift card online. This allows more people to be able to shop online with us no matter what your preferred payment method is. Just because you don’t have a credit card doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to shop with us.

Creating customised product pages (custom sales) for online customers who might request a specialist item or multiple items, and also in-store customers that perhaps can’t find the product they want at their local store, is another way we personlise our service. If we receive a customer enquiry and we can possibly make it happen then we will do all we can to make that happen. Also even though we don’t, as a rule, send overseas yet, we will take each international query on its individual merit and if we can possibly send an item, or items, to someone overseas then we will set up a custom sale for international customers too.

We also offer a gift message service where we handwrite a customer’s gift message into a gift card to include when the item is for a gift. Another small, but personal, thing we do is to send out a birthday greeting to our email subscribers (if they’ve shared their birth date with us - day and month only, we never ask for the year). We also include a link to a humourous birthday video (that we change regularly).

This story originally appeared in NZRetail magazine issue 744 June / July 2016

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