Luxury Int

High Fashion and Luxury Demand Omnichannel Engagement Solutions

October’s Luxury Interactive conference in New York City came and went with little fanfare in Midtown Manhattan. Overshadowed during the three short days by the much larger Comic-Con across town, Luxury Interactive drew a very particular crowd: retailers needing to differentiate their brand online, and the service providers peddling solutions.

In talking to today’s marketing and ecommerce gurus from the leading fashion brands of the world, it was clear that there are two specific priorities on everyone’s wish list for 2015…

  1. A solution to execute high-touch campaigns in the omnichannel (especially for smaller, more exclusive luxury companies).
  2. A tool to efficiently curate user-generated content so that it can be repurposed as additional art while successfully excluding low quality and/or unfashionable images.

The first problem seemed to be the most pressing, whether it was an agency like Huge Inc., or a large retailer like Saks Fifth Avenue; getting that Saturday champagne and brunch shopping experience to play in the digital world is a constant struggle. Luxury brands differentiate themselves through the projection of quality, whether it is the service level delivered by associates, the décor in the store, or the quality of the actual goods, luxury depends on differentiation for that extra margin. This isn’t easy to do in the digital world.

One great example of someone doing this well is Mitchell’s stores. Mitchell’s spent two years working on its ecommerce experience. Mitchell’s is arguably the single most revered luxury retailer in America. Mitchell’s is known not only for its quality products and high-class clientele, but also for the services provided in its stores. According to a conversation I had with Bob Mitchell, company president and author of “Hug Your Customer”, the company spent two years developing its ecommerce platform because they recognized that the brand needed to survive online, and therefore the customer experience needed to replicate the service level found in stores.

They really did a great job.

For example when I log in:

  • my salesman is featured prominently
  • I have my own dashboard that includes my most recent purchases
  • a list of recommendations (from both my salesman and the computer), and a calendar of events amongst other features show up

Differentiation is the key for maintaining luxury brands online, if you go above and beyond to provide extraordinary service in-store, you must now do even more online to make sure your shopping experience differentiates itself from your down-market competition. For marketers, that means using all the customer data available to personalize and cater to customers.


Mitchell's Stores Does Omnichannel Well
Mitchell’s knows their omnichannel customer


The agencies that I spoke with tended take the Mitchell’s view of luxury ecommerce, that luxury brands need to invest in a specific customer service experience, like having access to my personal sales associate while I browse the web, rather than repurpose third party technologies popular with mid market ecommerce businesses. The luxury brands themselves were less convinced that such investments are necessary. I think we’ll find that many of these luxury brands invest in small solutions to replicate the high-touch feel and balk on larger investments in a bespoke ecommerce ecosystem.

Our DMA 2014 Takeaways

The San Diego Convention Center was lovely, and the weather collaborated to make a beautiful experience (especially in the back atriums and patio areas). Our only qualm – the exhibit booths weren’t on the sailboats outside. Great choice of a venue.

The keynote speakers were fantastic, and you could tell by the way people packed up and crowded the main hall that excitement was in the air. Our personal favorite was Magic Johnson – “Keep trying, consistency is key”.(I may have made part of that quote up…he got me so pumped all I could think about during the keynote was, “You can do anything.”)

There were plenty of thought provoking tracks to keep marketers intrigued and actively learning. A few of the CRM tracks were phenomenal, but my personal track favorite was the short session with Google creative director Ben Jones. His ability to mix data and storytelling is something marketers need to listen carefully to. Data might tell you predictions, but storytelling is what will ultimately create brand presence and loyal followers. A point made several times from different speakers was that integrating data the right way can make all the difference when it it comes to analyzing omnichannel interaction (ready for the holidays?).

Our neighbors at 1 point mail were great – Managing Director Paul Westhorpe and team really know enterprise email and were incredibly friendly, and we were able to connect with lots of folks over our #mymarketinghero contest, which turned out to be a huge success…Our simple concept – nominate your marketing hero on twitter and win a chance to get two Apple TVs – encouraged people to engage with each other and earn some brownie points. By the end of the conference, people started calling us the marketing hero guys, which I took as a job well done.

Congrats Rick Miller on winning the contest, and nominee Brian Kurtz!

Wrapping up…

What we loved:
Magic Johnson, the focus on traditional AND digital marketing, our #mymarketinghero contest, San Diego weather, the beautiful venue, DMA’s hard work

What the people want:
Tracks clearly separated by mastery level, less vendor-led tracks (teach me, don’t pitch me), more exhibit hall traffic

We did not stay for the post-event tracks, so if anyone has thoughts on how they went, feel free to shoot me an email at

If you are a marketer or are in an industry/company where marketing is a key strategy component, you have probably heard the term “omnichannel” one or two times (or twenty… or fifty…). It’s the buzzword that seems to be redefining the way consumer facing companies conduct business. Omnichannel marketing means reaching customers seamlessly across multiple channels from digital channels such as website and email to physical channels such as in-store and direct mail.

Consumers should be provided with the opportunity to connect with the company on various levels, and the brand or company should have the foresight to recognize the consumer as one and the same amongst these layers. Consistency across every channel is key; if the consumer purchases a product on the retailer’s ecommerce site, he/she should be able to return it at the physical store. The channels should essentially co-exist and be complementary in nature.

Here are some examples of A+ omnichannel experiences:


Omnichannel marketing SephoraBuy in store, receive an email asking for a review. I recently purchased foundation from Sephora at one of their mall locations and received this email a few days later.

I am an avid Sephora fan and have been a Beauty Insider member (their version of a rewards card) for many years. It’s intriguing that Sephora was one of the first retailers to embrace omnichannel marketing by pushing customers through to their website from an in-store experience.

As a result, Sephora now contains 1000s of reviews across a wide variety of products and is essentially the for make-up reviews. Sephora has also installed screens in their physical stores which gives access to customer reviews and prices. Just recently I received a few samples of various creams, and the store associate was able to print out a little “how-to” receipt with the average rating of the item and insert it into my sample bag. It is ingenious and quite frankly so very convenient.

While Sephora is making strides toward omnichannel marketing, they have not yet adopted pick up at store and have kept ecommerce and in-store purchases separate (a pain point for some). However, needless to say, Sephora has invested the time and effort into making the in-store purchasing process integrated with their digital presence, making the in store purchasing experience delightful and easy.


Omnichannel marketing Nordstrom
Nordstrom’s mobile app makes recommendations in the app based on the consumer’s previous search history.

Nordstrom has always been ahead of its time and continues to surprise and delight their customers with their seamless shopping experience. In fact, the large retailer was one of the first department stores to truly invest in their ecommerce platform while other traditional department store retailers lagged far behind.

The results speak for themselves, as web sales in 2014 grew 33% in the first quarter of 2014, and web sales accounted for 14.2% of all sales, up from 9% in 2012 (source).

Not only has Nordstrom invested in their flagship Nordstrom product, they have invested heavily in Nordstrom Rack’s ecommerce platform, using their 2011 HauteLook acquisition as a model. In May 2014, Nordstrom launched their ecommerce platform on along with a mobile app.

Hautelook members are able to sign in with their member IDs and passwords, and any purchases made on can be returned in store, making the omnichannel experience truly seamless.omnichannel marketing nordstrom rack

Nordstrom executive VP and Chief Financial Officer Mike Koppel has said Nordstrom “plan[s] to invest $3.9 billion in capital over the next five years as we focus on serving more customers through store and online growth.”

As Nordstrom’s omnichannel marketing investments grow, we will see an even better consumer shopping experience.


Although the massive data breach severely drove a bullet hole in the reputation of the big box retailer and revealed their severe lack of security coordination, Target has been the leader in omnichannel for big box retailers. In fact, Target has been so good at predicting customer behavior, a father got upset that his teen daughter was receiving coupons for expectant mothers, not realizing she was indeed pregnant.

omnichannel marketing targetTarget’s omnichannel experience consists of ship-to-store, pick-up at store, ship-to-home, an ecommerce website, and a mobile app. Target’s mobile app allows for customers to pinpoint exactly where items are located in the store, down to the precise aisle of where they reside. Other features of the mobile app include adding items to your virtual cart and selecting pick up in store, a map of the store layout, a coupon/savings section, shopping list, registry list, and wish list among others.

It’s clear that Target is using its mobile app as their central HQ for the omnichannel experience, as multiple channels are integrated into one, making marketing extremely easy. Cartwheel is a coupon service which integrates with Facebook to offer coupons on things the consumer already buys. In exchange for coupons, consumers are handing over their social data which Target can then use to send targeted offers.

Retailers are moving towards this direction of the omnichannel experience, but there are some retailers who took the plunge well ahead of their competitors, adapting to the desires of their consumers. It’s these companies that will continue to thrive in the battle between ecommerce and traditional commerce.

Retailers, maximize your omnichannel marketing for the holidays

Omnichannel marketing is key to growing revenue in an increasingly hostile holiday environment.

Because you’re reading this, I’m assuming 3 things about you:

  1. Marketing across channels is essential for you this holiday season
  2. Tracking and measuring performance across channels is important to you
  3. Personalized omnichannel marketing is a priority

With those assumptions in mind, here are three quick ways to start preparing for a busy, cross channel holiday season.

Learn from last year’s performance

It’s almost a given that your CFO analyzed last year’s holiday performance like a hawk, and it’s now up to you to take another glance at how your marketing goals and metrics held up previously.

Here are several questions to get you started:

How accurate was reporting?

Were you able to track users from each of your digital assets?

Could you track email campaigns onto website?

Were the discount campaigns a direct result of your in-store sales increases?

Did personalized campaigns run across your channels?

Remember that your CMO may already have specific metrics, goals, strategy for this holiday season, so be sure to tailor your analysis to this year’s needs.

You can save lots of pain and suffering by learning from past performance, so get digging!

Audit your current capabilities

Take your current holiday strategy and objectively ask yourself if your current capabilities can rise to the occasion. If goals seem difficult to meet, start pinpointing weak points in your current processes, team, and tools. You can take your analysis of last year’s performance to build a diagnosis of your situation.

We’ll use an example from above:

Reporting was not accurate + Team has to create manual reports, leading to inconsistent cadence and content + Reporting was only able to pull from separate sources individually (email/website/in-store) + We do not have a current data integration platform for easy reporting

The problems may be many, but laying out all your marketing issues allows you to find the easiest solution to solve all the issues at hand. For instance, it’s easy to see that the clear solution to the reporting problem would be to invest in an automated data management system.

Look to success stories

Apple's omnichannel strategies are highly regarded

Most companies are struggling when it comes to cross-channel marketing personalization, but there are a few gems that have managed to connect the customer experience and drive significant ROI as a result. Apple has managed to track omnichannel customer movement through clever use of digital tracking and in-store digital check out with Apple IDs. Easton Bell sports has connected social, mobile, online, and offline data to mine lifecycle, demographics, buying patterns, and other critical data points, creating 360 degree views of customers.

Photo credits go to Chris Ford and Andy