NRF’s Jessica Hibbard looks at how retailers are adapting to evolving consumer behavior and rethinking shopping experiences to stay one step ahead
I’ve been a Warby Parker fan since covering co-CEO David Gilboa’s session at Retail’s BIG Show in 2014, and I ordered my first pair of glasses soon after. When my prescription changed recently, I had a reason to visit the retailer several times: trying on frames at the store in New York’s Grand Central Terminal while waiting for a friend’s train, ordering new glasses at home on my laptop, tracking the delivery on my phone and stopping at a D.C. location to troubleshoot a problem with the fit and lenses.
This type of “multichannel” journey — bouncing from store to website to app and back to a store again — is the way most of us are shopping now.
Consumers have been quick to make new technology a part of their lives and expect retailers to do the same. Warby Parker was a digital company first and opened stores only after a few years of rapid online growth, which may give the brand an advantage when it comes to creating seamless experiences across multiple channels. When I walked into the location near my office, there was no need to wait in line with paper receipt in hand; I was immediately greeted by a smiling store associate who entered my email address on an iPad and had my prescription and purchase history at her fingertips.
The NRF-FitForCommerce Omnichannel Retail Index tracks retailer implementation of 200 digital and multichannel features — those deceivingly small considerations that make an outsized difference on the shopping experience — and found a double-digit increase in adoption rates on several types of initiatives. From the first study conducted in August 2015 to the most recent analysis in October 2016, online and multichannel retailers have been adding features that make it easier for shoppers to discover products, get what they want and collect rewards for coming back again.