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Omni-channel retail: Creating a seamless experience

India Claydon


Like many retailers across the UK, over 70% of our clients have a brick-and-mortar presence alongside their online store. Most of them have also experimented with omni-channel experiences for their customers.
Read on to discover some of their most effective, creative and well-executed omni-channel offerings. Who knows, they might even inspire you to try something similar!
Click & Collect
When connecting the online and offline worlds, convenient Click & Collect is the number one service that shoppers expect to have access to. According to Barclaycard, nine out of 10 retailers are planning to invest in their Click & Collect offering over the next five years. In fact, the market could be worth almost £10 billion by 2023!
Most of our clients already offer this service, and we think Millie’s Cookies have nailed it. With a focus on freshness and personalisation, the brand have given their customers the option to order cookies with the added bonus of personalised text and images iced on them.
Operating over 60 stores across the UK, Millie’s Cookies already have a strong high street presence. We worked with them to develop a system that allows customers to choose their favourite cookies from their local store, before selecting a collection date and time. For especially hungry customers, same day collection is an option too. Using a bespoke Magento dashboard, the stores can view their upcoming orders and trigger customer notifications once their cookies are ready to collect. Simple!
Introducing Click & Collect was a huge success for Millie’s Cookies, who have since decided to offer further collection services in their partner stores. In this case, they opted for a more traditional model where goods are baked in a central production facility before being delivered to the partner stores, ready for collection.
So, is Click & Collect worth investing in? We certainly think so! By making your collection options clear on your website, you might persuade more customers to shop with you. Combine this with a seamless experience and well-informed staff in your stores, and you’re onto a winner. Customers love the convenience of Click & Collect, and if you can offer same day collection, even better.

Endless Aisles
Yep, it’s that word again. 2020 has been completely unprecedented so far, and retailers’ ability to adapt to unexpected challenges is key for survival. The combination of high running costs and low footfall means that stores must come up with ways to claw back vital sales. After all, our customers’ high street visits may be declining, but their expectations are growing! Responding with “I’m sorry, that size isn’t in stock” is no longer a good enough answer for customers who have the freedom to shop elsewhere.
Popular lifestyle and fashion brand Oliver Bonas are one of our biggest clients. With many of their smaller stores situated in railway and underground stations, they benefit from high footfall but suffer from low stock levels. In the past, products and sizes were often out of stock. Unsurprisingly this lead to a disappointing experience for shoppers, and often a loss of sale.
We helped Oliver Bonas to implement an ‘Endless Aisles’ solution to this issue, which helped to generate incremental value and crucially, increase customer satisfaction. So how did it work?
Each store now has a tablet or computer system linked to a dedicated card machine. Products that are available in the warehouse but not in store can be ordered for the customer there and then. Staff simply use a special ‘store mode’ option on the Oliver Bonas website to add the chosen product to the customer’s basket. They then follow a modified, data capture secure checkout and place the order online, taking payment via cash or card as normal. Free delivery can usually be offered to show appreciation, too.
We’d encourage all retailers with both an online and in-store presence to explore ‘Endless Aisles’ technology. Many payment gateways now offer clever solutions for in-store payments, which can be linked seamlessly to digital order systems. Combined with the right ecommerce development partner, implementing these technologies could be cheaper and easier than you’d expect!

In-store quotes
Amongst our clients, Topps Tiles certainly win the award for the highest number of physical stores! With over 350 locations across the UK, integration between their website and in-store till system was quite complex. Luckily we’re always up for a challenge!
Choosing new tiles isn’t a simple task, and many elements can influence the final outcome of the finished look. The type of tile used, the layout of the tiles on the wall and floor, and the choice of grout and trims can all leave customers’ minds a bit boggled. To remedy this, we helped Topps Tiles to integrate not one but TWO specialised visualisers into their website.
Upon entering the store, customers are invited into a ‘design area’. Here, the staff use the website’s store mode to connect to the customer. This enables Topps Tiles to explore details of the customer’s previous on-site behaviour, and use the visualiser tools to build a basket the customer is happy with. Once they’re happy, they can either place their order straight away, or request a quote. The quote comes in the form of the customer’s basket, all saved and ready to buy. A link is sent to their email address, and may even contain an extra discount as an added incentive.
Not only does this feature enable staff to help the customer make an informed decision, it also ensures that the customer never leaves empty handed - even if they’re still considering their purchase! Think of it as a 100% personalised version of the ‘brochure module’ and ‘quote system’, which can be used in any store or showroom. We’ve found that this option adds a lot of value, particularly for clients who specialise in complex and bespoke interiors projects.
Look out for our upcoming case study, where we’ll go into even more depth about how we’ve helped Topps Tiles to become a true omni-channel retailer.

All of our examples focus on improving customer satisfaction and removing frustrating experiences, which is vital in a world where shoppers’ expectations are increasing day by day.
Although it’s impossible to predict what the future holds for retail post Covid-19, one thing’s for certain. Retailers must constantly adapt and find innovative solutions to keep their customers happy, both in-store and online!
Want to go omni-channel?
Perhaps you’re thinking of offering a Click & Collect service? Or do you want functionality that enables customers to order ‘out of stock’ items in your stores? Tom&Co specialise in ecommerce, and we know a thing or two about creating seamless omni-channel experiences (even if we do say so ourselves).
Want to know how we could help you? Call us on 0207 351 3521, or fill in our contact form and someone from our team will get in touch!