Lessons from Retail Peers: Integrating Brick and Mortar into the 1 to 1 Omni-channel Shopping Experience

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

-Henry Ford

Why didn’t the Sears mygofer experiment succeed? If you read last week’s Wall Street Journal article about it, you may be left with the impression that mismanagement, poor execution, and failure to identify with shoppers are to blame.

If you look at Eddie Lampert’s post on the Sears blog in response to the WSJ story, you could have the understanding that although the physical mygofer store in Joliet, IL closed, much success came out of the technology tested there. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater and label the whole thing a failure, the retail industry should be looking closely at what Sears tried with mygofer – successfully and otherwise – throughout their efforts to modernize and adapt around shoppers. There are lessons in everything.

In 2015, brick and mortar will play a bigger role in unified, 1 to 1 shopping experiences. The industry can learn a lot from peers who have made successful and failed attempts to innovate in this arena.


Takeaway Ideas from Sears, RetailMeNot, and Kohl’s

Customers who make the effort to visit a store will always want to touch and feel products and consult with associates. An impersonal warehouse devoid of these options proved not to work. It showed how sacrificing 1 to 1 shopping for the sake of pure convenience is not the right move. Nonetheless, the industry can thank Sears for being bold and trying it; someone had to.

As demonstrated by RetailMeNot, if value is a main motivator, shoppers have no problem finding discounts by using their mobile devices during in-person store visits. Retailers should capitalize on this behavior by offering better deals to customers who engage directly with them on mobile, rather than through third party coupon sites. By delivering individually tailored in-store promotions to shoppers on their smartphones, retailers have the opportunity to introduce dynamic discounting into brick and mortar.

Shoppers who want the ultimate hybrid between convenience and the ability to try before buying can browse online and have merchandise put aside for final fitting once they arrive to a store (a successful innovation touted by Lampert as stemming from a mygofer pivot). In contrast to the original mygofer model, this does a good job of melding digital with real life personalization.

Loyalty programs can be a good bridge between digital and stores. Companies should pay attention to online shopping behavior at the 1 to 1 level. Emailing customers with personalized coupons to be claimed in person is something Sears is successfully doing through an initiative called “Shop Your Way”.

Kohl’s has taken their loyalty program a step further with their mobile wallet integration, which the company sees as a key competitive advantage. Earlier this month, The WSJ blog reported that the tightly integrated loyalty program has resulted in two extra trips to the store and an incremental spend of $80 per year.


Blowing down the door to brick and mortar

The most successful retail initiatives in 2014 are those focused around omni-channel customer experiences. Its important to realize that brick and mortar represents roughly 94% of all retail revenue. The door between physical stores and digital is ajar. To continue momentum, our industry will need to blow it down. Companies who can deliver seamless 1 to 1 shopping between all digital and brick and mortar will see success in the years to come.

Cameron Conaway

Cameron is the Director of Content at Reflektion. His work as a journalist and content marketer has appeared in Forbes, Newsweek, and The Guardian, among other outlets. Connect with him here on LinkedIn and on Twitter @CameronConaway.