As the clicks-to-bricks movement gains steam and more physical retailers score online wins, analysts at Forrester are digging deeper into digital success formulas. And brands like Nordstrom, Best Buy, Warby Parker and Third Love are emerging as stars.
The researcher’s latest report focuses on five key areas -- omnichannel, personalization, analytics, digital store capabilities and artificial intelligence -- and finds that while there's still no single solution for retailers, a handful are finding multiple ways to bring innovation to stores.
Overall, Forrester finds that businesses are still shortchanging customer experience, with just 50% of respondents saying that improving CX is a priority. Although that ranks as the second-biggest concerns, topped only by increasing revenues, they’re not moving very fast. Of those emphasizing CX, just half are currently working on improvements, while 26% say they intend to do so within the next six months.
Omnichannel strategy touches every stage of the shopper journey, with 21% saying these efforts are their top priority. Survey authors single out Best Buy, which has been investing in omnichannel fulfillment for a decade, as an example of how powerful a mature program can be. In Best Buy’s case, the ability to buy online and pick items up in stores has become something of a science and helped doubled online sales in five years, now tracking at about 15% of domestic sales.
Forrester analysts Brendan Witcher and Claudia Tajima say Nordstrom, Warby Parker and Ulta are brands excelling in personalization to make the shopping experience more meaningful.
For Nordstrom, personalization efforts include the acquisition of Bevyup, a digital commerce tool, and Messageyes, a conversational commerce platform. The retailer has also spent money on on stylists and tailors who work to differentiate the in-store experience.
Warby Parker’s mobile face-mapping tool adeptly personalizes eyeglasses shopping by using the iPhone X’s face-mapping technology to consider face shape when making suggestions for which frames to buy. It also offers a prescription check that lets people take a vision test at home.
And at Ulta, personalization is powered by its 30 million-member loyalty program, now driving 90% of sales.
When it comes to analytics, the report commends Fabletics, which excels at using customer data to optimize inventory, and REI, which uses geospatial analytics to place digital out-of-home marketing. And it says Third Love, the online-only bra company, has 30 data scientists analyzing 75 million bra-fit data points from its 1 million active customers to improve fit and experience.
And while AI is less developed than the other categories, Forrester calls out Alibaba’s for its AI copywriter tool, which creates machine-generated content, and Urban Outfitters for using AI technology to sharpen search and product recommendations. Stitch Fix is excelling at combining AI learnings -- like observing what styles and trends are missing from its current inventory -- with assessments from human stylists, sharpening overall results.
Forrester’s "Global Business Technographics Priorities and Journey" survey includes more than 20,000 respondents in eight countries