Omnichannel check-up: How are the big mall brands faring from a consumer point of view?

by Donna Fulmer, Listrak market research manager

Recently the Marketing Team at Listrak took a road trip to King of Prussia Mall, the nation’s second largest mall, which features a diverse mix of more than 400 stores, including an array of upscale department stores and luxury brands. Our mission was to make observations throughout the mall and to secretly shop eight well-known retailers whose stores we had already shopped online and whose email marketing lists we had already joined to see what type of omnichannel experience they are offering consumers.

Some of the findings were surprising.

Technology and Omnichannel Customer Service

One of the advantages that physical stores have over eCommerce sites is of course face-to-face interaction with sales associates. The stores we shopped ranged from luxury fashion brands to fast fashion brands and high end beauty and skincare products to sporting goods stores, and associates in all stores were friendly and professional. What they weren’t in many cases, however, was helpful or knowledgeable about technology or the omnichannel experience.

But first things first. There frankly was not a lot of technology to be found – at least at the stores we visited. At six of the eight stores, we did not see technology in the hands of associates at all. At two of the retailers, there were kiosks that allowed for the creation of registries or sign up for loyalty programs (also email acquisition tools – see below), and at one of those stores the associates also did a commendable job of acquiring loyalty members at check out.

At two other retailers, both luxury apparel and accessories brands, there were iPads available to associates, but in only a single case did an associate actually use it. In that case, it was to offer a great omnichannel experience, finding a product that the brand offers but did not have in-store and sending an email featuring the product detail page (no other retailers were able to do this for us when requested).

At the other luxury retailer, in fact, our secret shopper who had established a wish list onsite prior to the store visit, asked an associate who had iPad in-hand to call the list up and was instead recommended to access it herself on her phone app. That same associate, when pressed to help with the app, took our secret shopper’s phone with her behind a curtained area in the back of the store, where she also subsequently took the shopper’s credit card when she made her purchase.  All the while, another iPad lay idle in the store as other associates helped customers empty-handed.  

Email Acquisition

Knowing that email is the highest ROI producing digital channel for omnichannel retailers, we were eager to see – outside of the kiosks at two stores that essentially serve as email acquisition tools - how aggressive retailers are in collecting email addresses at point of sale. The fact is, they are not at all.

At first we looked for in-store signage. In the stores we researched, only one store - a fast fashion retailer - had POS signage inviting shoppers to text an email address to receive 20% off, which worked seamlessly. In fact, when one of our secret shoppers attempted to sign up with an address already in the system, she immediately received a return text noting that she is already a subscriber. Upon texting her work email address instead, she was promptly texted the message to present to receive her discount.  

We then noted whether or not associates asked for an email address at check-out. Associates at the registers of six of eight of the stores did not ask for an email address, and in fact, when one of our secret shoppers tried to provide one at a well-known sporting goods store, he was told the retailer was unable to take it.

And finally, e-Receipts provide a great convenience for shoppers and a great email acquisition opportunity for retailers, and we wanted to know how many retailers are actually taking advantage of them. Not one of the eight retailers we studied, however, readily offered one, even if able to provide it, and our requests to be sent e-receipts were met with an interesting array of responses:

  • An associate at a high end beauty/skincare retailer told us he could, but he would just print it out instead
  • An associate at a well-known sporting goods retailer told us the brand could not provide e-receipts
  • An associate at another sports performance equipment brand told us they used to offer e-receipts but no longer do
  • A popular homegoods retailer reported a receipt could not be provided, however, it wasn’t needed anyway if the shopper has an account established (and thus, was not given)

Cross-channel Consistency

Prior to taking our field trip, our secret shoppers had been browsing and shopping the retailers’ sites and studying their emails, and we were interested in seeing how the in-store experience matched the online brand experience. In this area, we were pleased to find, that with very few exceptions, the retailers offered a consistent experience between on-line and physical store and email. That being said, some of the e-receipts we received following our visits were text only, which is a missed opportunity for those retailers to present brand consistent communications that continue the conversation and begin setting the stage for the next purchase.

It’s worth noting that most of these same retailers we visited have beautiful, robust websites, offer helpful apps, are active in social media and make many other omnichannel efforts, which is certainly a great start. Where it seems, however, that they sadly still all fall down a bit is in synchronizing those efforts to provide the consumer with a truly omnichannel experience.

If you’ve had a noteworthy omnichannel experience, please share it!  

Clare House

The vision of Clare House in Lancaster, PA is a community where all women and children have a sense of optimism, confidence and hope for the future. The organization’s mission is to serve homeless women and children in a caring environment, through life skills training and support, leading to self-sufficiency.

Every day Clare House receives calls from women who find themselves homeless as a result of abusive relationships, addiction, loss of employment, or simply slipping through "the system." These women need a safe place for themselves and their children where they can turn their lives around. They need someone who understands and is willing to give them a hand. Clare House teams with women in the Lancaster community to assess their needs and deficits before building life skills to inspire a brighter tomorrow. 

As families move on from needing the support the house provides, it needs to be cleaned before welcoming new families, which is done with the help of volunteers like Listrak employees who contribute VTO hours. Visit the Clare House website to learn more about volunteer opportunities. 

Targeted Email Marketing: Influence Purchase Decisions using Customer Intent

by Megan Ouellet, Director of Content Marketing. Reach out and say hi to Megan on LinkedIn.

There has been a major shift in the way customers respond to targeted email messages. Just a few years ago, the general belief regarding browse and abandon emails centered on privacy issues. These first emails were unexpected and startling. Customers were reading a lot about data breaches in the news and were concerned about their personal data being used in nefarious ways.

But what a difference a year makes. Online browse messages have become some of the timeliest and most relevant emails you can send. And customers appreciate them – especially when they replace batch and blast messages. Broadcast messages are great at driving awareness, but these triggered online browse messages do much more than that.

Online browse messages:
  • Influence shoppers’ purchase decisions using customer intent
  • Use customer data in the best possible way, walking shoppers down the path to purchase items that are most relevant to their needs
  • Engage shoppers in personalized communications based on their current interests
  • Provide the opportunity for customers to discover new products by including product recommendations based on the category, sub-category or merchandise viewed

This online browse message brings in 59% as much revenue as the brand's cart abandonment campaigns.

Best of all, these messages are automated. Triggered campaigns have much higher engagement and conversion rates than broadcast campaigns, driving 184% more sales on average. And it’s no different for online browse messages. The average open rate for a browse abandon message is 31.7%, which is 130% higher than the average open rate for a broadcast message. Online browse messages also average $ .38 revenue per email and can be as high as $ .96 for best in class messages. Batch and blast messages only average $ .05 revenue per email. 

Most importantly, at 13.8x ROI, the average automated online browse campaign will add a significant amount of revenue to your bottom line. These campaigns run in the background with little maintenance. Just set them up and take the extra money to the bank.
Unlike other triggered campaigns, online browse messages let you cast a wide net. As long as you have the email address for a site visitor a targeted email message can be automatically deployed. You can learn more about growing the reachable rate of your site visitors here.

The connection between cart abandonment and online browse

If you are already sending a shopping cart abandonment series, you need to add an online browse program to your marketing mix. Online browse messages are the important first step for many shoppers in their customer journey as they show that you are listening to customers and reacting in a personal and timely manner. You are treating them as individuals, not as just one of the millions of people on your list. The messages are the building blocks of an engaging, loyal and long-term relationship.

We analyzed the online browse campaigns 35 of our retail clients are sending and found this one universal truth: the more messages you send, the more money you make. Just like shopping cart abandonment campaigns, you shouldn’t stick to just one attempt. But the similarities don’t end there.

Timing – The automation of these messages allows you to set the right timing. After years of research and testing, we found that cart recovery messages that are sent three hours after the abandonment have the highest probability of generating a conversion. Additional messages should be sent every 2-3 days. Online browse messages, on the other hand, should be sent a bit sooner. Message one should go out within two hours of the site abandonment as there is a bigger chance that the customer is still online and is still contemplating the purchase. Similarly, each successive message should be sent closer to the online visit in order to recapture the interest and attention of the shopper. But, as always, you should test to find out what works best for your customers.

Suppression – Just like cart abandonment messages, you should suppress the shoppers in your online browse campaign from receiving your promotional, batch and blast messages. These triggered messages are more relevant and personal and will drive more revenue.

Promotional Message Benchmarks:

Online Browse Benchmarks:

Cart Abandonment Benchmarks:

There is no denying that cart abandonment messages have some of the highest campaign metrics. You can expect your online browse messages to bring in about 40% as much revenue as your cart recovery campaigns. However, in some instances, we’ve seen the best in class online browse messages outperform the cart abandonment campaigns by as much as 143%.

Personal Product Recommendations – Including personal product recommendations based on the same category or sub-category or items related to the merchandise viewed will greatly increase the conversion rates of your online browse messages. We found that online browse campaigns that do not contain personal product recommendations have an average ROI of 13.4x while those with recommendations have an ROI of 17.3x, a 29% increase.

This online browse message's ROI is 48x

Nurturing Series – The age-old adage is true. If you send more, you’ll make more. We have always recommended sending at least three cart abandonment messages – and even more if you are still getting a double-digit conversion rate. The same is true for your browse abandon messages. giggle has a six message series, sending one message per day that features the browsed item along with recommended products plus user generated content in the form of customer pictures posted to giggle’s Instagram page. With Olapic, these images are shoppable, giving customers many opportunities to engage and purchase.

Are you ready to give online browse messages a try? Let us know. We’d love to talk to you about how it can transform your digital marketing campaigns and drive more revenue.