A Peek Into Bon-Ton Stores’ Omnichannel Strategy
Omnichannel is a buzzword we all hear too frequently. But the truth is, many retailers aren't “there yet” when it comes to a complete omnichannel strategy.
That’s why it’s so encouraging to hear when companies seem to be on the right omnichannel track. One such company is Bon-Ton Stores, the regional department store based in York, Pa. I learned about its omnichannel approach during a session at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition on Wednesday.
"We aim to create synergy between our stores, website, and traditional marketing and digital channels for a seamless customer experience," Tiffany Cooley, Bon-Ton’s vice president of marketing, told the packed audience.
One way Bon-Ton does this is by integrating its print material with its website. For example, the retailer incorporates web IDs and keywords for search into its print catalogs so consumers can find the specific products they want on the company's website more efficiently.
"Print doesn't have to be a dying medium," Cooley said. "Make printed marketing materials work harder for you. Offer products and let customers choose how they want to get them."
Cooley also discussed the importance of providing engaging content for consumers. "It's not about discussing the latest sale anymore," she said. "It's about using content to connect with and inspire your customers."
Bridging the Online-Offline Worlds
Another key element in Bon-Ton's omnichannel approach is integrating its brick-and-mortar locations with digital. For example, Bon-Ton uses kiosks and leverages web inventory in-store to help customers get exactly what they need in the sizes and colors they want.
"We convert as many customers as we can in-store by leveraging our entire company’s inventory, whether it's inventory located in our other stores or distribution centers," Cooley said.
Bon-Ton also marries online and offline through its e-receipts program. Store associates collect email addresses from customers at checkout so that their receipt can be emailed to them. Bon-Ton can then use these collected email addresses to create more customer engagement — online and offline.
Bon-Ton encourages its customers to use the retailer's mobile website or app to assist them while shopping in-store. For example, the company offers a virtual credit card that customers can use in-store via their mobile devices.
In addition, Bon-Ton offers its customers the option to buy online and pick up in-store. This program "helps marry the brick-and-mortar and digital experiences while also providing the customer with a convenient and fast way to get what they’ve ordered," Cooley said. "Another side benefit is that it drives traffic to the store and often, once there, the customer will buy other items as well."
Lastly, Bon-Ton's loyalty program is integrated into the company's overall omnichannel strategy. 'We use our loyalty program to engage with and incentivize customers who shop through multiple channels," Cooley said, adding that a Bon-Ton customer who shops online and in-store spends four times more annually with the brand than a single-channel shopper.
"Everyone knows that an omnichannel customer spends more, so we reward her for it," Cooley said.
Do you know of other retailers with successful omnichannel strategies? Maybe your own company that you would like to tell us about? If so, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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