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The retailers rocking a multi-channel strategy

We recently released the International Retail Index, in which we looked at the top 30 global retailers, including brands such as Amazon, ASOS and Hello Fresh, and sought to understand what makes those brands so internationally successful.

One thing that proved to be an important factor for many companies was having a multi-channel strategy, ie. focusing their attention on selling to customers via offline outlets, such as physical stores, and online outlets, such as ecommerce sites and marketplaces.

We found that from 2012 to 2017, the top 30 retailers grew their combined international presence by 20 markets and a whopping 13,000 stores. This equates to an enormous 14% increase.

The majority of retailers in the index have increased sales via online channels, but supermarkets Aldi, Walmart and Lidl have taken a different approach, focusing their efforts on a vast number of physical stores for customers to visit.

Understanding customer preference for discounts has helped these companies grow globally. Walmart, for example, entices shoppers by offering a pickup discount for items ordered online and collected in-store. Its app also allows in-store customers to skip queues and gain access to store maps.

In order to establish a physical store network in China, Aldi decided to launch online, selling a limited range of food and drink, which allowed them to expand their reach. The European brand also had success in the US when trialling an online delivery service in partnership with Instacart in 2017, again allowing them to build their customer base.

Beauty retailer Sephora is another brand that has a solid multi-channel strategy. The company now has 2,300 stores across 33 countries, and recently opened its largest US store in New York, where it hosts beauty workshops, and has interactive tech that lets shoppers virtually try on products. Creating an online experience in store is a great way to cater for customer needs, and many businesses are recognising the importance of keeping up with ever-changing consumer habits.

For retailers expanding globally, the biggest challenge can often be delivering a proposition that caters to customers everywhere. However, creating a unified ecommerce solution that allows for a seamless CX across both digital and physical channels is a great way of combating this issue.

Catering for convenience and flexibility, for example providing the ability to collect and return orders to lockers or stores, is becoming increasingly important, and many retailers are also focusing their efforts on online ordering capabilities within a store environment. This is a feature that the likes of John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Next have all implemented.

Using click-and-collect as a way to increase footfall into physical stores is yet another way to boost brand loyalty thanks to great in-store customer experience, and has the potential to drive add-on purchases.

While many retailers continue to focus their attention mainly on their online capabilities (and this does work for many), there are also, as we saw above, several key reasons why brands should consider a multi-channel strategy. Physical stores work well for a lot of retailers, and can work in harmony with their online presence. Moving forward, it is clear that retailers will need to up their game when it comes to improving the in store customer experience, and that bringing the online experience in in some way will prove essential.

Interested in finding out more about the retailers going global in style? Check out the Loqate International Retail Index.

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