Omnichannel Retailing: Connecting the Physical and Digital Experience


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Balancing both digital and physical retail presence is a tricky game, but when retailers are savvy enough to embrace innovation across both channels, it can deliver remarkable results. In this article, we’ll take a look at some examples of retailers who are embracing tech to deliver an integrated experience across both physical and ecommerce retail stores.



The value of connecting physical and digital


The COVID-19 pandemic spurred consumers to shift online in droves, and in response, many traditional retailers moved focus to developing their digital offerings. The digital landscape is now more competitive than ever, with bricks and mortar stores recognising the need to develop robust ecommerce to capture consumer demand over lockdown.


While there has been a strong shift to ecommerce, physical retail stores still play a key part in the consumer journey. In Q2 of 2020, Target discovered that multi-channel consumers spend four times as much as store-only consumers and 10 times more than digital-only consumers. The result was an overall sales increase of 24.3%.


Aussie brand JB HI-FI is another great example of a successful omnichannel approach. Over the peak of the pandemic in 2020, JB HI-FI smashed records with online profits soaring. Despite this, CEO Richard Murray maintains that the bricks and mortar stores are key to the business success, telling news.com earlier this year that his aim is not to close stores but to keep them relevant.



Kmart Australia and Pay in Store


Kmart Australia has introduced elements of the integrated shopping experience through a Pay in Store feature on their app. Also known as click and collect, this feature enables customers to reserve items online and then collect their items and pay in-store.


Click and collect has been a popular option for retailers looking to bridge the gap between their in-store and online experiences. A click and collect offering is a common stepping stone towards full ecommerce, however it remains effective as a standalone feature providing convenience to customers who prefer to make their final purchase in-store, but want to research their purchase and reserve it ahead of visiting.


Top lessons from Kmart

  1. Customers may use multiple touchpoints, often researching and choosing products online but going in-store to purchase. Meet them at both touchpoints with click and collect.

  2. In a post-pandemic world, customers want differing levels of in-store interaction.


Mecca Online Profiles & In-Store Scanning


Mecca have shown themselves to be masters of the omnichannel experience, blending their digital and physical channels seamlessly. Strong online content including tips and tricks accessible on their publication The Memo are complemented in store by informed salespeople, product testing and free makeovers. Customers can create online profiles to track their purchases, scan items while in store, access tutorials, keep wish lists and more.


Top lessons from Mecca:

  1. A nurturing in-store experience can be replicated online through content, video and interactivity.

  2. Collecting customer profiles online enhances in-store experience and brings both channels together.


IKEA app operates as a virtual companion to the in-store experience


IKEA is embracing omnichannel shopping with an app that features Pinterest-like functionality allowing users to browse thousands of shoppable images for different room inspirations. Users can view availability in their closest store, make purchases and choose between delivery online or in-store collection.


Top lessons from IKEA:

  1. IKEA has developed an online experience that matches the in-store experience. Rather than visiting the store and physically walking through all the room inspiration, users can scroll through thousands of images.

  2. The IKEA app operates as a virtual companion to the in-store experience.


Retail media brings the in-store experience online


Retail media represents the ultimate in bringing the in-store experience online. Native and smart advertising delivered with a real-time personalisation engine means consumers are met with relevant advertising for the products they want.


Online point of purchase advertising not only works at the digital checkout, it works in-store as well. In 13 days, a new biodegradable-wipe brand grew their market share at a retailer from 13% to 18%. Their total online sales grew by 40%. Interestingly, without any other marketing launch activity, in-store sales also increased by 18%.


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