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The Rise of Digital Experiences in European Retail

Image courtesy of Levi Strauss

 

In the wake of the post-Covid consumer landscape, companies are having to pivot towards an increasingly holistic omnichannel proposition. 

With bricks and mortar retail stores closing at a disconcerting pace and online shopping habits fostered during lockdowns proving to be sticking around, it’s never been more vital for brands to stay abreast of the latest innovations. 

Bridging the gap between physical stores and e-commerce sites—through the use of social media channels, in-store screens, tablet POS integration, and expansion into third-party retailers—omnichannel propositions allow for companies to reach their target consumers through myriad touchpoints. 

Denim giant Levi Strauss was quick to pioneer this trend back in 2019, when they trialed their first “six NextGen pilot stores across Europe and Asia”, with the aim of “testing and learning about how consumers are responding to [our] new concepts and designs.” 

 

One of the first “NextGen” Levi Strauss stores in 2019

 

Finding success through their implementation of various new features—such as “LED portal entry archways and LED screens for marketing content”—the brand is now expanding these rollouts to a “number of stores in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Given the ever-changing nature of the industry and the term ‘omnichannel’ itself, there are other areas in which this concept is expanding within the e-commerce sphere. 

Focusing on more of an omnichannel contact point approach, “ContactPigeon, one of the leading omnichannel customer engagement platforms for retailers in Europe” has launched an omnichannel chat solution called Samaritan. 

 

This platform achieves this through a number of features: 

  • Protects sensitive customer data and ensures the safety of personal information with 2-step verification via email and mobile number
  • Empowers the agents with a detailed customer profile embedded in the chat interface, for top-notch support
  • Allows brands to deliver triggered chat messages based on customers’ behavior for optimal and personalized customer support experience
  • Supports advanced dynamic segmentation features

 

For brands and companies that don’t have a physical retail presence, customer service is of utmost importance in securing ongoing brand trust and reputation, making such platforms increasingly wise for expanding models. 

By centralizing contact options for customers, the ease of contact is naturally improved, improving loyalty and acquisition in one, if the customer service proposition is properly marketed onsite. 

It’s clear that these customer engagement services are being taken seriously by key players, with ContactPigeon’s client base including household names across “Europe and the USA such as Fujitsu, Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, and L’OREAL”.

 

An offline model

Another sector in which omnichannel has led to huge CAGR improvements in the wake of Covid is off-price e-commerce. Taking learnings from physical outlet stores and malls, a wave of online outlet retailers have emerged in recent years, relying on the gamification and exclusivity of their offering – usually through memberships and closed groups. 

By taking an offline model into the omnichannel field, brands like Zalando have found success with their off-price launches such as Zalando Lounge, which presents well-known premium and luxury brands at discounted prices through a slightly different offering to standard brand drops. 

The convenience and market penetration of these offerings has led to significant wins within the fashion industry, as “many EU countries enjoyed a spike in consumer demand over the past year. Germany, for instance, saw demand triple that of 2020. Six countries in the European Union are projected to experience demand growth of 16 percent per year through 2025”.

With consumer interests and values constantly morphing, brands are feeling the pressure more than ever to revolutionize their propositions and act swiftly on feedback. 

The key for omnichannel retailers is to ensure as wide a reach as possible—with ease of communication both to the customer and from the customer being a particular priority—given the radical shift online we saw as a result of national lockdowns.