News & Trends

How top brands are brewing up a new kind of omni-channel integration

Posted by: Jen Maisch Jen Maisch
on June 8, 2015

Starbucks isn’t just known for its killer cup of joe, but its distinctive interior ambiance which sparked a new coffee shop craze across the country and helped turn the company into a household name.

Still, even as one the most iconic brands in the world, Starbucks has been challenged to rethink the store model that once worked so seamlessly and naturally for its customers, and come up with fresh and novel ways to bridge the gap between its brick-and-mortar services and consumers’ new digital demands. Staying relevant in this new world order is no longer just a task for the mom-and-pops aiming to be heard in the marketplace, but for the national retailers, too.

But Starbucks serves us up a perfect example of how even simple changes can help retailers hit the refresh button. Back in March, Starbucks put the kibosh on its music CD sales they sold at the checkout counter. That was a major change for the brand which had always incorporated a musical element into its now famous coffee shop atmosphere. But rather than abandoning this persona all together, Starbucks got together with Spotify, the popular music streaming service, to broker a program where the coffee retailer will play tunes selected by baristas in 7,000 stores across the country. Starbucks customers can also receive awards through the music app, which can be cashed in for free drinks.

This partnership is part of Starbucks’ greater efforts to integrate technology and digital trends into its day-to-day operations, which has become a major thrust in recent years, and reminds us that there’s no room to be complacent in this fast changing retail landscape – even if you have the brand equity to rely on.

So what other trends are brands turning to of late? Here are just a few of the top omni-channel integrations we are seeing this year.

Mobile payments. Also sometimes referred to as mobile money or mobile wallets, mobile payments refer to payments that take place from or via a mobile device in place of cash, checks, or credit cards. A few services you might have heard of include Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and now after 17 years, PayPal. Haven’t looked into accepting mobile payments yet? Now might be the time.

Making an app for that. The app world is undeniably crowded, but that’s not reason to avoid it if it makes sense for your business model. In fact, in 2014, mobile app usage flourished and was well on its way to becoming the majority of all digital media activity as consumers are spending more time on their apps than ever before.

Getting tech-ready. Whether you’re looking into an updated POS system that gives greater visibility into your inventory, or looking to follow in the progressive footsteps of brands like Nordstrom, which allow customers to check out with an associate no matter where they are throughout the store, technology is the way of the future, and small investments now can make a big impact for retailers in the long run.

Social media. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but having a social presence is a free and sure-fire way to help expand your retail shop audience. Before launching a new platform, just be confident you have sufficient time to keep your content up to date so your brand reflects the kind of activity levels you have going on at your store.

A place to call home. Despite the popularity of digital retail and technology, brick-and-mortar retailers should keep their storefronts at the forefront, as physical stores have the potential to become powerful media points to propagate the brand story, excite consumers, and encourage purchases across any number of channels or devices.

Check back here for more as we continue to update you on the kinds of tools and technologies that savvy retailers are implementing to optimize their omni-channel retail approach.

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