Back in December, we talked about the gap in omni-channel retail customer service. In this roundup, we hand picked posts from other marketers to help paint a picture of how brands and shoppers are negotiating the omni-channel landscape so far in 2014.

Bricks or clicks?

At this point in the retail game, consumers expect that any product they could possibly want is available through whichever channel they prefer. What’s more, that preference may change depending on the type of product, price point, or whether this is a first time purchase or a repeat buy. Still, for retailers there are some key factors to consider when it comes to how you can engage your customers in a physical store vs. an e-commerce environment.

Blurred lines

Speaking of the online/offline debate, savvy brands are doing all they can to blur or obliterate the lines between on- and offline commerce.

Luxury e-commerce shop, Net-A-Porter, recently announced plans to publish a print magazine. The glossy mag, published 6 times yearly, will showcase the retailers goods and strengthen their position as a fashion news and advice destination.


Meanwhile, socially savvy fans of Marc Jacobs were treated to gifts ranging from perfume, to jewelry, to handbags in exchange for likes, tweets, Instagram photos, etc. while visiting the brand’s Manhattan pop-up store. Will #hashtag for #handbags?

Shoppers flip the script on “showrooming”

Hey, remember back in 2013 when we were all wringing our hands because shoppers were turning our precious square footage into a showroom, then ultimately ordering products online (often not from the retailer they “showroomed”!)?

Just when our exclusive SKU bundles and assorted tricks got ironed out, consumers have flipped the script. The new trend? Webrooming. Basically the exact opposite of showrooming, webrooming is when shoppers do their research online then pop into the physical store to make their purchase.

Is this a real “thing”?

This past holiday shopping season, foot traffic to bricks-and-mortar stores in November and December 2013 fell by 14.6%, while in-store purchases actually increased during the same period by 2.7%… so yeah, it’s a “thing” now.

All together now

Ok, so let’s tie this roundup together with a real world example.

Macy’s is one of hundreds of retailers testing out iBeacon; a new-ish, more battery-efficient indoor GPS tracking technology. iBeacon is cool because it solves a number of technical challenges to tracking shoppers in-store, but where iBeacon really shines is helping brands bridge the online/offline gap, moving them closer to a true omni-channel experience.

[Need a quick crash course on iBeacon? Take 5 to read this]

But why would consumers agree to let retailers track their movements? For the same reasons they engage with brands on social media, sign up for email lists, and join loyalty programs: they perceive value in the exchange.

For example, Macy’s PromoAlert program will not only welcome opted-in shoppers when they enter the store, but can highlight individually tailored promotions and use data from a shoppers’ online or mobile app activity to trigger alerts as she moves through the store.

Customers maintain control over the type of data they allow to be tracked and the alerts they wish to receive, and Macy’s creates a “concierge” shopping experience that delights engaged customers and keeps them coming back for more.

Your turn

What’s your biggest challenge with omni-channel marketing? Let us know in the comments and we’ll dig into it for a future post.

[This post originally appeared on]