Rise of omni-channel retail.

“What is omni-channel retailing to us? It is really important to us to deliver exceptional customer service supported by the products and services that we offer,” Williams-Sonoma Australia managing director, Evan Hutton told attendees of the Online Retailer Conference last week.

“We focus on what we can do in each channel that is unique to that channel, and where we need to be consistent across the channels. Our strategy is focused on that seamless, customisable and personalised customer experience in each channel. Another big focus for us is driving customer awareness, acquisition retention and loyalty in this market.

“I know we are an online retailer but retail stores are really important to us and they play into our overall strength in what we deliver to the customer.


“A number of pureplays are now looking into entering the physical retail environment. A store footprint gives us the opportunity to give our customers inspirational lifestyle merchandising as they get to touch, feel and see what we are also presenting online and in our catalogues. Most (95%) of our product is designed and developed in-house, from the initial concept phase to being available in store.

“Many customers are looking for knowledgeable staff in store, which provides a point of difference between shopping online or in store.

“Our in-store classes and events provide another reason to come into store as they offer an experience that you cannot get online or via catalogue. We participate in a number of collaborations with local influencers who come into store, which allows us to connect with our local community.”

A recent Commonwealth Bank Retail Insights Report revealed that an increasing number of pureplay online retailers are opening a physical store to provide a tangible experience for customers and drive online sales.

The report, based on surveys and interviews, showed almost one in five e-tailers in Australia are planning to open their first physical store by early 2017.

It also showed 18% of the country’s online retailers are planning to establish a physical outlet in the year ahead, up from 13% in the previous report half-year report, and over three quarters of retail businesses will have a physical presence.