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Evolution of luxury retailers in disruptive Omni-channel world

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Exploring strategies and implications of this innovative trend in today customer centric world.

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Evolution of luxury retailers in disruptive Omni-channel world

  1. 1.     1   Evolution Of Luxury Retailers In Disruptive Omni-Channel World Exploring strategies and implications of this innovative trend in today customer centric world. Author: Gladys Lim Ee Sim, candidate of Executive Master’s Degree in Luxury Goods Management. Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. This research is developed solely as final project for class assignment. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright ©2014.This research publication may not be reproduced, photocopied, transmitted without the permission of the author. email:
  2. 2.     2   Contents Background 3 Omni- Channel: What is the buzz? 4 Accessing Omni-channel market trends and opportunities 5 Reset luxury experience: Keeping up with changing customers 6 Decoding Omni-channel’s consumer decision journey and touch points 10 Best practices and implication of Omni-channel management 12 Redefine today monolithic communication from operations integration 14 Create new measurable ecosystem 15 New challenges for luxury retailer in Omni-channel world 16 Exploring innovative executions 21 Conclusions 42 Bibliography 43
  3. 3.     3   Background In Autumn 2014, you received an e-DM from Burberry about the new Autumn Winter collection in an email sent to your mobile’s inbox. Next thing you know, you clicked on the mail and you see brand’s collection advertisement on brand’s Youtube channel. You see a bag that you like and decided to check out the price by searching for Burberry brand site. As you browsed through the web catalogue, you are exposed to more products online. To verify the price, one fine day you passed the Burberry store and being reminded by the window display and visited the store. As you shopped in the store, sale assistance showed with her aided iPad for more additional colors for this product. You can’t quite exactly decide which color to go for and sales assistance wrote down the model numbers in nice lovely Burberry’s card for you to take time to consider. One week later during lunch hour at your desktop, you read about the reviews on influencer’s blog endorsing the bag. Now you’ve made up your mind and return to the store but this time you were told you have to pre-order and new stock arriving at the store from another branch the following week or you can purchase on brands’ mobile apps to have it deliver to your home. This is Omni-channel consumer – you are in the Omni-world. That said if you have smartphone or connected on-line chances are the rest of the consumers are doing the same. In the United States – the most technology matured and penetrated market; more than 50% of cell phone owners have smartphones, and more than 70% to interact with online content, making comparison shopping, offline sensory experience, online review by blurring the boundaries between brick and mortar retailing and digital world. This consumer habit is becoming increasingly common worldwide in correlation to Internet’s penetration rate and digital devices advancement. Illustration below shows in the past, brick and mortar retail stores were indispensable allowing consumers to search, touch and feel merchandise. As the retailing industry evolves along with technology, the question now is beyond “to be or not to be online”. The first wave hit in the 90’s, many sectors were fiercely developed business 2.0. We witnessed Internet retailers like,,,,, are providing wide product selection with competitive pricing. Then, with social media platforms, bloggers phenomena, mobile RFID, QR code, mobile payment gateway, wearable technology and augmented virtual content mushrooming as we entering 21 st century resulting retailing industry evolving toward seamless “Omni-channel”. With the technology advancement and data analytics intelligence, digital marketing no longer only was segmenting who is shopping online who is not, who to talk to and with what media. It has transformed to a concierge model for communication, product showroom/review, payment transactions and choices of deliveries. Soon the distinct worlds of offline and online will be vaporized. Fig 1: Retailing Channel Revolution. Source: OnlineEconomy (2013)
  4. 4.     4   Omni-Channel: What is the buzz? Increasingly we are witnessing worldwide retailers are shedding more light in maturing the concept of Omni- channel. It is no longer just a theory from the academia or consultants’ minds. Omni comes from the Latin word – omnis. Omni is a combining form used as a prefix meaning “all” or “universal” or “everything” or “everywhere”. ( Channel means any kind of customer interaction medium: physical stores (also known as brick-and-mortar stores), television, call center, website, mobile sites, apps, and social networking sites. Omni-channel is the mix of all physical and digital channels to create an innovative and unified customer experience to build brand equity and business. Historically retailers used to obsess over sales per square foot moreover the more for luxury retailers. The push back over multi-channel is fear of loosing control of previously guarded brand reputation and heritage for an absolute exclusivity and dream allure to the selected discerning few. Arguably luxury retailers have the long belief of human touch at physical luxurious store would just be enough to woo consumer’s sense of experience. Without regard to if is a strategic call to made, retailers must change the game to remains relevant to the fact that their entire operation needs to be available 24×7 via any means the customer has. Below illustration shows the difference of each channels’ models: Fig 2: Omni-Channel Retailing. Source: (2013)
  5. 5.     5   Accessing Omni-Channel Retailing and Opportunities Luxury sector is slow to invest in this Omni-channel evolution. While examining this consumer trend in various trades, some of the best and straightforward marketing practices are mostly observed in the fast-moving consumer goods and mass-market fashion retailers. Luxury retailers are on the end tail of picking slower rhythm in investing in this evolution however it’s noticeably gaining momentum in recent year. Most luxury retailers are at least several years out from putting in place the back-end investments that enable inventory visibility across channels for the many reasons: ubiquitous counterfeiting, limited production in controlling of supply to preserve exclusivity and retaining its allure of positioning of true luxury brand’s values. Without exploiting full advantage of the shift in consumer behavior resulting loosing sales by not providing adequate inventory resources online and loosing brand’s dialogue in digital space. The luxury retailers are relying entirely on their distribution efforts for global expansion. It was clear strategic call for luxury brands having investing in theater liked retail space of flagships and concept stores in the most prestige addresses in major cities around the globe, to reach out to sell product and build brand presence and awareness. Now given the shift of consumer’s behavior (thanks to digital technology and innovation), luxury retailers should be thinking how to lever on digital toolbox not only to sell products but to “engage and touch” new customers. The consumers experience is no longer in the hand of in-store sales associates to tell the story of the brand and craftsmanship of the products. Consumers today are smarter than before, traditional method of PR reach, sales ceremony and product centric business model is becoming less relevant; instead we much embrace customer’s centricity by celebrate heterogeneity. It’s clear much personalized attention is required and this cannot be fully achieved by single channel of magic retail recipe of customer experience and customer service. Omni- channel is the answer to this shopper’s habit by integrating in-store retailing with digital platforms. In the year of 2013, worldwide luxury market worth €190 billion consists of few generations of luxury’s consumer. Two important groups of generation called Gen X (age 34-48) and Gen Y (age 13-33) accounted 47% of the highest growth. This generations representing future core luxury’s consumers group shows strong preference in shopping online or with consideration of known facts they are spending most of the time searching for information in digital world. According to Bain & Co recent 2014 report on luxury’s consumer’s behaviors and consumption patterns winning their hearts and desires is early stage is crucial by levering brand love story with digital contact. Fig 3: True Luxury Consumers By Generation. Source: Bain & Company. ”Lens on the worldwide luxury consumer.” (2013)
  6. 6.     6   Fig 4: Luxury consumer shopper pattern. Source: Bain & Company. “Lens on the worldwide luxury consumer.” (2013) Reset Luxury Experience: Keeping Up With Changing Customers From “Digital” To “Dynamic” As any other businesses knowing your customers unlocks sales potential, each interaction phases are windows of opportunity. The traditional “customer-centric” multi-channel approach with online and offline segregation proved company’s NPS “net promoter score” failed to meet expectation according to Accenture’s report on “Omni-channel approach in serving customers (2013)”. Why? You may question since these retailers are offering digital service. This is a consequence from lacking of integration, affiliation and dialogue across different channels. I couldn’t have stress enough that in the eye’s of customer view the brand as being one entity whether being a brand’s direct operated store “DOS”, direct operated e-commerce site, duty free travel channel or store-in-store channel. Presuming a customer purchase a Burberry’s bag online and unable to get exchange at physical store because due to different inventory system or P&L it’s likely to stirs frustration and dissatisfaction. Customers are expecting immediacy in product availability and service, failing which resulting low encouragement in “NPS”. The key word here is “dynamic” not “digital”. Customers are smarter, empowered, ever complex and ever demanding. Using Accenture’s research study, we can grasp basic insights of today customer’s habits and behaviors that fundamentally reflect how retailers must react, think and organize marketing mix accordingly. Fig 5: Consumer in Omni channel. Source:Omnichannel (2013)
  7. 7.     7   According to Accenture’s study, consumers behavioral can be classified into few dimensions of their needs. 1. More knowledgeable. Thanks to Internet accessibility and online consumer-created content and social networks. In other words more informed than ever before. For example, consumers read reviews on books from, premium skin care products reviews from, F&B restaurants ratings on, same goes for hotels etc. 2. More demanding. Consumers redefining what value means to them. For example, time-compressed consumers are increasingly prioritizing convenience and demand for immediacy. 3. More empowered. Consumers follow their unique requirements and increasingly pursue self-service and multi- channel options. For example, IT savvy customers whom know exactly what they want and dislike interaction with sales assistant can purchase customize Salvatore Ferragamo’ Vara shoes online via iPad, desktop or smartphone. 4. More collaboration. Consumers increasingly bring their own devices, apps and other tools from outside the ecosystem and thus increasingly determine not just what services they wish to consume, but exactly how they wish to consume. 5. More diversify. Due to globalization in various markets and technology advancement consumers now dictates the business requirements. For example, more than a fourth of consumers who search for information in-store end up buying in
a different channel depending on their needs at any given moment. 6. More interaction. Consumers increasingly engage in online dialogue, content sharing and curate their own content with brands. For example, consumers posting complains on brands’ Facebook page as oppose to call- center or real-time virtual sales assistance with customer service team on the site. 7. More mobile. Accessibility on the go is key driver for action anytime, anywhere. For example, consumers can purchase air-ticket via mobile apps on the taxi to matches up their own expectations and purchasing process. Fig 6: A New Model of Understanding Today Customers. Source: Accenture. “Omni-Channel Approach In Serving Customers.” (2013)
  8. 8.     8   Desktop user thinking is not the end. It has to be responsive website for mobile users One of the key driver behind this trend is mobile technology especially smartphones pushing digital advertising and e-commerce. With this, is clear that brands are betting their advertising dollar in this media. Statistic showing the biggest spender on digital advertising is the retail industry. In 2013, the retail industry has spent US$9.54 billion on digital advertising - just in the US. According to eMarketer, this number will increase to US$11.05 billion this year. Fig 7: Global E-Commerce Sales Source: (2013) Given the bright outlook of digital advertising as the growth is outpacing the traditional media, it does made sense by complementing to responsive web design. Responsive web design means the strategy and process thinking has to be mobile-enabled first in order to provide an optimal viewing experience to users. Some sites are yet to fully enhanced their web-sites design to be fully navigate across wide range of smartphone devices, across languages and browsers. Basically this is the culprit where drop off rate of traffic and interaction from users happens. Why is this crucial? Here is the perspective; mobile commerce is accounts for 73% of all mobile payments while desktop commerce sales are just 35% of total transaction according to PayPal’s research on mobile market 2014. Which means brand managers has to ensure digital appearance in any marketing activities has to be responsive design ready for an optimum result. Fig 8: Global E-Commerce Sales Source: (2013)
  9. 9.     9   Intelligence of data analytics levels the playing field Managing relationships with customer is one of the major challenge in retailing, even more crucial in luxury retailing to build trusted relationship and alienating non-customers “day trippers or show-rooming users” to protect the privilege of the real customers. Historically or even until now, stores are not necessarily can identify what customers were looking for whilst they walk right in the physical store. However is time to look into data for more statistical actions. There is vast knowledge and insights ready about customers when brands uses data correctly. This significantly leveling the competitive advantage to recruit new customer, retaining loyal customer and developing core customers base before any competitors acting. It’s harder to collect consumer data in brick- and-mortar stores comparing to digital channels (mobile apps, websites, e-newsletter sign-up, payment gateway, fans in social media platforms). It’s so much data available and in fact is hard to know how to consolidate from different channels. Assuming marketing department of luxury companies use Facebook targeted analysis data for communication is only track-able in the digital space to conversion, engagement not foot traffic to physical store or sales conversion in the store. Is even more challenging when the retail channels is not directly operated and we know for sure the data of sellout is lost after wholesalers or resellers. How do we close the gap? It’s vital for luxury company’s managers to have firm understanding of consumers decision journey and by mapping out a tailor campaign to funnel the actions from online to offline. This can be achieve using QR code, RFID or any fulfillment mechanics (promo code, bloggers’ referral) in the campaigns when managers want to direct footing to brick-and-mortar store. Too often luxury companies use fashion models/celebrity bloggers as public relationship handling by tapping into their fans’ base. Yes, luxury brands need to communicate not only to their desired target customers but also non-customers to create the desirability and dream factors in the society. The thinking now is how to filter out real luxury goods’ customers when dealing with social media and blogs. Increasing huge fans’ base of celebrity blogger is not enough and often higher in term of cost per acquisition. Managers need to go for genuine fans that bring value per acquisition as oppose to cost, in other words fan that can potentially turns to actual customer with sales conversion. • Acquisition can be achieved using different performance channels and strategies. Foot traffic can be influence with digital channel. • Click through can be more targeted using data intelligence analysis. • Conversion rate (Digital channel) influence by UX elements “User experience”, mix of marketing and commercial. • Conversion rate (Brick-and-mortar channel) influence by mix of store shopping experiences, commercials, merchandizing and sales. • Average ticket size can be influence with product assortment, category mix and upselling/cross selling strategy. • Frequency of visit can be influence with CRM. Fig 9: Digital Acquisition Strategy In An Omni-channel Environment. Source: Accenture “Profit Distribution in Omni-Chanel Retail” (2013)
  10. 10.     10   Illustration below shows an example by leveraging data across various digital platforms can complement the overall performance of integrated marketing communication plan. This digital marketing mix produces actionable insight that can manipulate target audience reach, traffic, and conversion and click through in a measurable matrix. Fig 10: Leverage on commercial communication synergy. Source: Accenture “Profit Distribution in Omni-Chanel Retail” (2013) Decoding Omni-Channel’s Consumer Decision Journey And Touch Points Purchase path is no longer linear as before. According to Accenture’s study shows today consumer decision journey is redefined with 81% interactions were engaged in digital channel. Each paths starting from awareness, consideration, purchase and advocacy are capturing what enablers to leverage for full potential. Fig 11: Customer Is Exploring Omni-Channel Experience. Source: Accenture “Profit Distribution in Omni-Chanel Retail” (2013)
  11. 11.     11   By now we recognize significant portion time were spent online, what’s more interesting from recent Mckinsey consulting company findings is the breakdown by percentages of time spent for each activities: evaluation, consideration, experience, stepping foot into the store or making online transaction, cultivate loyalty and advocacy. This is the strategic roadmap for luxury companies need to be considered in early adoption of new customers into the segment, harnessing loyalty and influencing others to patronize their brand. Fig 12: Decode each customer decision journey. Source: Mckinsey’s marketing & sales Facebook page “(2013)
  12. 12.     12   Best Practices Of Omni-Channel Management To develop a seamless experience across channels, you need to master each aspects and have in-depth understanding of the potential and analyze deeply how to get there strategically. There’s a whole lot of background strategy to be done first to pave way to this bold future. “ Mobile now accounts for 48% of all US based e-commerce traffic, but only 11% of total spend ” This fact from comScore’s study is showing even technology powerhouse US haven’t reached the saturation point yet, there is room for penetration and non-mobile optimized sites out there. Yet doesn’t took us by surprise to know many uninterested sales associates still pushing back and low receptive to drive the point home. Well the answer is whole lot of work need to be done. When broadly examined the spectrum of implications and benefits in various sectors, research has shown that is not just mere IT department’s responsibility to activate this. The notion of Omni-channel impacts entire organization which requires strategic call starting with its core business model to make things work and sustainable. This is a model central around consumer decision’s journey can engage company’s products and services at the right place and right time. Strategic assessment needs to be plan before a funding decision and scouting for technology solution partner that have the capability to supports ERP, point of sales, CRM, inventory management, merchandise planning and forecasting, receiving, reserving, e-commerce, data sharing, integration of complex operation procedures, understanding of conversion, engagement and insight into consumer profiling and behavior and also sensitive on sales and services. Ultimately the luxury company’s goal is to engage right customers, providing best quality product and experience without diluted the allure of the luxury brands’ image by transforming silos technology of the business into a harmonic eco system. Key Implications and benefits of implementing Omni-channel into a luxury organization. 1. Creating an Omni-channel culture start from company’s DNA. Technology is just an enabler. First and foremost company in particularly legacy generational owns luxury companies need to do more than just look inward; they need to think differently about how they reach out to customers and potential customers. Organizations that have built their business models on limited production, single channel operation will find this shopper trend increasingly important yet challenging to adopt. Let’s begin by shifting the mindset with leader believing in it, craft the cultural and intention in stone and getting buy in across business units especially aligning of in-store retail sales force. Too often, front liners perceive online channel as another store, an indirect competition not at their favor hence less receptive when being enquire by customers regarding products online. Company has to train and incentivize customer service team, be it in online and offline teams to focus on creating holistic superior customer’s experience.
  13. 13.     13   Fig 13: Retailers must change the game to stay relevant and become seamless themselves. Source: Accenture “Profit Distribution in Omni-Chanel Retail” (2013) 2. Creating a real time single view of inventory in the cloud. One of the key benefits of Omni-channel is customers driving time and space allowing greater mobility and roaming beyond traditional retailing hours. To succeed in this and to fulfill customer’s aspiration we can only thru technology, central supply chain warehouse and linkage of ERP “Enterprise Resource Planning” system has to be able to allows best possible view and interact with inventory position in-store and online. Two sides of benefit on inventory front, one is optimizing retail space and two is tighter inventory control across all channels all stores with daily stock counting lead to accuracy of forecast. Addition to aforementioned, transparency of data for staffs and customers to manage turnaround fulfillment and expectation of product availability is benefiting. For example, In-store sale associates can instantly gratify on their assistive devices with reserve and collect/delivery feature in the event there is out of stock on certain shoe sizes, this effectively assure customer satisfaction without risk loosing sale. 3. More than just digital click but holistic dynamic experience. Luxury customers need to be feel they are being look after. To achieve this is to create emergence of experience online by showing the interest and product showcase and driving them to purchase at retail store. The essence here is to bring the luxury experience from initial online and offline in best of both worlds. Essentially is to breakdown the barrier by integrating seamlessly and ushering consumers throughout the entire journey. Choosing right message to communicate to customers at the right time and right channel. 4. Creating a single view of customer’s profile. Data is extremely powerful to generate valuable actionable insights when comes to CRM strategy to build customers relationship, Company has to decide who and to what spectrum of accessibility to this data. Who as in personnel can view the customer profiles, past transaction regardless of geographical and cross channel purchase, what the customer want and wish list, their fit and preference, what content they interested and shopping habit. When luxury brands managers can truly understand the in depth customer profiling with impeccable execution, manager can effectively design marketing strategy offering customize personalize experience to customers. With real time customers insight in their finger tips, sales associates able to amaze customers by getting exactly what they want. 5. Content merchandising and marketing. This is daily biggest challenge because finding and curating enough content on a sustained basis that adds value and relevant is not easy task let’s alone talk about shareability content. Merging content and product catalogue to add value to the customers ultimately to generate traffic online/offline entices desirability and provide reason for customers to engage come back and share for greater visibility. Content creation involves strategy and mapping out writing long blog posts, taking picture on Instagram, Pinterest, videos making, e-books, webminars, podcasts, e-newsletter, Infographic, email marketing and so on. Aligning business goals and marketing activities with the online/offline channels allowing more effectively manage of advertising spend. For example, brands can convert customers online to drive foot traffic in-store by leveraging mobile campaign offer and trigger message, taking advantage with cross-selling and upselling opportunity to boosting profitability.
  14. 14.     14   Redefine Monolithic Communication From Operations Integration Inside Out The critical key point in order for this model to succeed is that these channels should work simultaneously and be integrated into one another. It’s not just about sales, but also about communication strategy at large. Omni- channel marketing implies infinite access disregard of time and space to brand’s information in all possible channels and devices. Marketers need to ensure brand site, in-store windows, eDM, e-newsletter, store locator function, apps, in-store sale assistance’s aided devices, traditional PR and online campaign communicate are driving same message. This requires communication mapping and strategizing on contents, trigger call for actions messaging. It has to be seamless and consistent to the eye’s of the customers. • Assortment and Pricing are integrated across channels. • Cohesive marketing for a non-stop 24x7 customers experience • Visibility and fulfillment of inventory at enterprise level Fig 14: Integrating Operations For Customer Conversation. Source: Accenture “Profit Distribution in Omni-Chanel Retail” (2013)
  15. 15.     15   Create New Measurable Ecosystem Given that Omni-channel’s operating is redefining entire company and how crucial it’s in paving the way of this implementation, it’s appropriate to set measure metrics for the over arching goals as well as the relation between each business actions within its ecosystem and to review periodically. The meaning of measuring relation between cross business actions means the return of investment to cost of operative for desired actions. Just to mention a few examples: Online QR promo code ties to redemption rate at store; email database reach to sales conversion or off-take rate; NPS differences during duly operation vs. periodic campaigns; online wish-list vs. actual trial on product mix; traffic visit rate with RFID; mobile apps download ties to CTA” call to action” and so on. In every phases of online/offline marketing activity should be continuously monitored, measured, analyzed and fine-tuned. With marketing analytical tools managers are able to track the right KPIs. What should we be measuring in effectiveness of social media? Below is an excerpt from “The science of B2B online marketing’s infographic.” Fig 15: Analytic measurement in Social Media Source: CircleGraphic’s infographic (2013)
  16. 16.     16   New Challenges For Luxury Retailers In The Omni-World There are always two sides of a coin, all opportunities posses’ potential challenges. With reference to the findings by below, customers expectation are incredibly high, inventory visibility across all channels, fulfillment in supply which also interrelated with demand forecasting accuracy, pricing strategies, content marketing so on and so forth. The bar of expectation is even higher for luxury retailers to meet. As luxury goods convince with to their high product quality and brands’ heritage, such issues need to be examined carefully and pay extra efforts in handling otherwise this could potentially jeopardize company’s reputation and loose its charms effect to customers. Fig 15: Important Aspects of Omni-Channel Strategy to Retailers Worldwide Source: (2013) 1. Customer expecting consistency luxurious experience in all channels. Every touch-points of the journey must emit luxurious experience, the look and feel of website required to match the in-store and product experience. Every pictures in digital channel has to be polished, every words exude the brand luxurious speak right down to using same fancy packaging material in delivery goods in both channels. In order to build a memorable user experience, we definitely need more than just a user friendly website, e-DM or social media posting. The smell of perfumes and the touch of the soft leather cannot be transmitted online. Thus, activating the human’s five senses through the digital channel is a major challenge. 2. Personal contra social media with human touch. To maintain this 'human contact', it is possible to create a personalized account. When entering this account, a personal shopper is ready to answer any questions of the curious potential customers, at any time. This provides not only a 24-hour service but even collect data to understand the client in a better way.
  17. 17.     17   Pic 1: Louis Vuitton Hong Kong source: Pic 2: Burberry London’ sales aided iPad. Source: 3. Sales associates has key role to play. Massive Omni-channel investments fall flat when a brand’s most visible ambassadors - sales associates approach retail from a single-channel perspective.” Quoted from Luxury Daily. Market visit shows sales force for instance never receive training when a new iOS app is launched by their respective brand, even when the app has an explicit in-store component. Gap retailer being a good example with its “Reserve In Store” function managed to weaved this into the in-store operation. 4. Scarcity of stock and restraining accessibility. Whilst FMCG and mass fashion retailers might have an unlimited capacity to produce high volume of product and rotate to response to the demand of market. As a luxury retailer it’s impossible to give customers an infinite amount of stock especially in the online world. According to Kapferer and Bastien (2012) in their book “The Luxury Strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands.” one of the Anti-Law of Marketing is limiting the supply in the objective to create desirability of craftsmanship and protects exclusivity. Luxury retailer has to know how to smartly use online to create desirability and buzz but straining the desire to keep the equilibrium of the brand’s dream value and try as much as to direct the purchase at physical stores.
  18. 18.     18   5. Delineation by product classification. Another practice to achieve distribution rarity is by delineation product mix between channels. For example, introduce capsule collection, introductory smaller SKUs in online channel. Further segmentation by size, color and customization for online order only for specific territory of customer and impose waiting time emulating the real experience of honoring the waiting. • Cross-channel commercial policy • Product assortment fully optimize in identifying top selling product that drive volume and niche/ carry over products that drive higher margin for long tail sustainability. • Pricing strategies are aligned across channels. Fig 16: Commercial Strategy for an Omni channel Journey. Source: Accenture “Profit Distribution in Omni-Chanel Retail” 2013 6. Distribution fulfillment. Many customers find that the main advantage of buying a product online is the delivery service that the e-shops provide (apart from the language and psychological inferiority). By psychologically inferior means luxury brands connote sense of snobbishness, at times intimidating to younger group when entering into luxury category for the first time. Thus, this insight can be turn around by only selling entry products online and divert for collection at store. Another common conflict is that efficiency of delivery after the purchase, clients have to wait till their product is delivered. Hence, the high expectations that a customer might have, covert to disappointments and low enthusiasm, when the product finally arrives at the customer's doorsteps. Delays on delivery and returns create troubles that did not exist in the single-channel retailing. Issue on reverse logistic in supply chain is extremely difficult to manage for luxury retailers to validate authenticity of products and wear and tear of expensive packaging material. Hence delivery and return policy have to be properly thought thru and explicitly express to manage customer’s expectation. There are two fulfillments models practicing in today retailers: ROPO- Research Online Purchase Offline. BOPS –Buy Online Pickup In-store.
  19. 19.     19   Chart below showing 30 % order is picked up in store in mass fashion retailers. Fig 17: 30% Orders is Picked Up in store in Large Fashion Retailers Source: UNIC “Omni-channel Best Practice” (2012) 7. Keeping hygiene record for transaction with no geographical limitation. Whilst retailers do have a physical and digital presence, some are struggling to be unified and to be innovative in the way they serve the customer on these channels. They also fail to create unify customers’ record globally without the Cloud based system. All store associates needs to be incentive to input customers’ contact report into cloud system. As globalization intensifying, luxury’s consumers are travelling greater extend and purchase could be made outside their residing country. Luxury retailers need to create cleaner inventory data to gain actionable insights into customer preferences. 8. Warehouse management system and logistic architecture. Generally most retailers position their distribution center warehousing in locations that provide the most cost effective logistic to their physical stores. The replenishments are typically happens by seasonal and/or monthly forecasting. At physical store level, the store manager monitor shelves inventory place bulk restock order in batch mode. While e-store warehousing is separate and usually place near to carrier’s hub which often done by third party carriers. Inventory transit/order using different systems and gaps in different systems, cost of central warehousing and logistic needs to be taking into account and evaluated. Below illustrations showing the Cloud based Omni- channel Warehouse Management Model eliminating multiple channel specific platforms. Fig 19: Order to Return Visibility. Source: ChainLink Research (2012)
  20. 20.     20   Fig 20: Cloud Warehouse Management System. Source: ChainLink Research (2012) 9. Content marketing and merchandise assortment. Whilst facing OOS “Out-Of-Stock” scenario is considered big lost in cost of opportunity for FMCG and mass retailer and contrary for luxury retailers. It is reasonable not to showcasing too many products and too many categories on luxury brand’s site as it will diluted the brand value but doesn’t means allowing to not refresh out dated seasonal inventory in the site. Product description cannot be flat; it must sing the same tone as the physical store. A comprehensive content strategy is requires to generate new and compelling contents consistently, it has to give enough reasons for visit to come back to digital platform just like the physical store.
  21. 21.     21   Exploring Innovative Omni-Channel Executions When comes to marrying bricks with digital clicks in Omni- world, Burberry definitely setting the bar in serving the Millennial customers. The brand weaved and embracing innovation into brand’s strategy and shows staying ahead of the curve in luxury retailing. From launching Instagram, Facebook online sampling campaign, streaming global events and revealed flagship stores worldwide, the brand always managed to immerse customers by combining digital and physical experiences. In physical stores, installed the tallest indoor retail screen in the world, interactive fitting rooms, RDIF chips woven into apparel and accessories as well as triggers with bespoke multimedia content relevant to the products. Burberry established its flagship store on London’s Regent Street that is formerly a theater space truly brings expression to life. The digitally luxury store is true sensory immersion of touch, feel and evoke your senses. It’s epitome of cultural space, innovation hub and transcending glamorous and heritage back in time in a seamless world. The store even has content from the online Burberry World, including Art of The Trench and Burberry Bespoke, which makes sense given shoppers frequently visit a brand website while shopping in their physical store. RFID tags on clothes allow shoppers to explore video content on mirrors. Burberry weaves digital with a touch of luxury in every single touch points, developing immersive, experiential, theatrical retail events and communication platforms. Pic: Burberry Art of The Trench. Source:
  22. 22.     22   Pic: Burberry flagship store in Regent Street London. Source: Burberry extending the digital beauty immersion into opening Beauty Box in London’s Coven Garden this year makes digital and beauty even more personalized. A mix and match beauty bar and nail bar digital tester via iPad app. Pic: Burberry first beauty box. Source:,
  23. 23.     23   Burberry biggest flagship store in Asia located in Shanghai is living the soul of technology and spirit of British- ness as well. Customers are welcomed by special mirrors upon entering the fitting rooms and equipped with social commerce features. Back in 2011, in conjunction of the flagship store launched Beijing; Burberry uses 3D animated holographic models then transform into real models. This year 2014, Burberry’s digital fashion show took the city by storm in bringing London rain to Shanghai in digital way. The show was so theatrical and media rich with live performance, British singers/bands and digital fashion paid homage to the true spirit of the brand and the best of London, the city of origin. Pic: Burberry Shanghai Fashion show 2014. Sources: View videos here: Celebrate London in Shanghai Fashion Show 2014: Regent Street Home of Burberry Digital Flagship Store: Inside Burberry Beauty Box:
  24. 24.     24   Kate Spade capsule collection “Saturday” teamed up with ebay.Inc turned window shopper to window buyers made headlines in 2013. The team rolled out four 24 hours pop up stores In Manhattan. Each stores comes with interactive storefronts allows shoppers to select and order merchandise on a touchscreen. The fulfillment is claiming one-hour delivery to anywhere in the city provided pay with PayPal upon delivery. This is one of the best Omni-Channel’s examples of merging mobile technology, same-day fulfillment of supply chain management and digital payment as well as customer experience. “Suddenly the physical store, by virtue of online technology, extends to any space that’s interesting to use,” Steve Yankovich, head of innovation and new ventures group of eBay. View video here: Pic: Kate Spade’s Interactive storefronts and interface. Source:, and
  25. 25.     25   Tissot is among the first few brands that impressed customers with AR (Augmented Reality) technology. Window shoppers were entertained and excited at Selfridges and London in 2010. This implementation has catapulted the interactive window experience in retail arena. The interactive window let’s shoppers virtually try on a 3D watch from Tissot’s pioneering tactile touch screen collection and the latest ladies watches. Window shoppers strap on a paper wristband, and the system, using a camera and touchscreen, displays the shopper wearing any Tissot’s watch he or she select. Not only intimidating or on-the go users will be able to review variety of styles without stepping into the store they can stand a chance to win Tissot watch as one of the CTA (call-to-action) is to encourage shareability in social medias to create buzz. View video here: Source: Interactive Window Display. and
  26. 26.     26   This superstore has pioneering the growth of online platform and in-store experience beauty category. A beauty land pack with shimmering customers experience with mission to bring relentless innovation to how women shop for cosmetic and beauty goods. According to Julie Bornstein, SVP of Digital at Sephora, the focus for Sephora digital now is looking at digital, in-store and e-commerce and looking at how they connect together. Is an immediate evident when you walk into some key Sephora stores as iPads displaying interesting online features and allowing for comparison shopping are placed strategically around the store and iPhone check-out has become the norm. The brand global sites are easily navigated with rich visuals and enticing contents. Worth mentioning fact is CRM program is one of my favorite in demonstration compelling contents. Beauty Insider memberships allowing customers to attend private events, book make up appointment in-store, redemption of seasonal gifts and collect loyalty points that you can exchange for attractive sample products. Sephora has also begun integrating information of bricks-and-mortar shop’s inventory on e-commerce page “Pre shopping” feature. Another project answered the needs of women when comes to purchasing for foundation. To find the best possible matched shade is always major problem. Sephora teamed up with Pantone for Color IQ, which uses X- Rite color- matching to select foundation shade with a scanning tool via iPad on the skin within few seconds. This science powered by the Pantone Color Institute precisely mapped out skin tones then access to a search of approximately 1000 brands and formulas in Sephora’s foundations inventory. Pic: Sephora + Pantone Color Institute. Source:
  27. 27.     27   Pic: Newsletter and loyalty program. Source: Sephora CRM
  28. 28.     28   Alexander Mqueen’ flagship store in London showcasing collection with Smart Mirror & Stikus Frame With the help of AR (Augmented Reality) and Natural User Interface (NUI) technologies, for instance, customer’s gestures, voice, other natural user face elements can be integrated into the shopping process within an innovative engagement. Interactive touchscreen table that project images “merchandise” on to large screen on the wall. - Digital Look book/movie - QR Code - Customers browse the collection, photograph in the look and sending email/ sharing via social media View video here: Pic: Great ways to use digital technology in retail store. Source:
  29. 29.     29   New Balance enhancing personalized in-store experience with unique professional fit service. In-store sales assistants uses retail app on iPad as sales tools to know their customers' detailed size, usage and orthopedic requirements. It acts as a point of engagement during self-service and consultative sales interactions. The app has features and utilities that allow them to assist customers with sizing, product information and comparisons. Allowing access the online inventory to check stock and availability of sizes and variants. View video here: Pic: Ipad app retail sales aid. Source: New Balance’s YouTube channel Karl Lagerfeld’ fashion whiz kid brings Selfie’s wave into fitting rooms in London flagship store.
  30. 30.     30   The #selfie-ready devices are loaded with Karl-inspired photo filters meant to then be shared via the shoppers' various social media accounts. Hopefully there's some sort of enforced time limit and not hoarding the customer in waiting line otherwise it can take a while to achieve the perfect Selfie shot. Pic: iPad for selfie ready shot. Source
  31. 31.     31   Parco, Japanese department store located in prime Tokyo’s Shibuya district. The shopping complex consists of 55 shops ranging in products from the top new designers in Japan today. The store is well know for its advance cutting edge technology in detecting physical shopper behavior into digital experience. A gigantic touchscreen display for customers to interact with than browsing selected merchandise displaying on mannequins. The display can showcase 1,000 products from all category, customers may choose an item and populates the detail of their selection in terms of price, color, measurement and location of the merchandise. The goal here is to mimic an online experience and footprint in the store. Thanks to technology the retailer able to blur the gap between Parco’s online shop and physical store. View video here:
  32. 32.     32   That’s not all, VQNQUISH Ikebukuro a boutique located in the departmental store partnering with teamLabHanger to bring more interaction and value to shoppers. Watch the video below will shows that when shopper remove merchandise from the rack, the monitor installed on top of the wall panel will showcase all related information. A model appears wearing the said merchandise on the hanger which shopper removed the hanger. Thanks to RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology, the RFID labels inserted into the hanger and when hanger is removed the ID is transmitted to computer and populate related content on the video screen. View video here: Pic: Product video show on screen when hanger is removed from display. Source:
  33. 33.     33   Tiffany & Co. Luxury experience goes mobile with Engagement Rings Finder App. The app includes an accurate ring size, the first tool of its kind from a jeweler, that lets users determine their size by placing an actual ring directly on the screen and aligning it with the correct circle in the guide. Browsing the collection according to shape, setting, metal or design. The rings are shown true-to-size and each style may be viewed with diamonds of six different carat sizes. Users can zoom in to marvel the ring’s exquisite details, pair the rings with wedding bands, and save or share their favorites via social medias. Further generate foot traffic by forging service with feature such as making consultation appointment in nearest store via the app. View video here: Pic: Tiffany & Co Engagement Ring Finder. Source:
  34. 34.     34   Gucci developed mobile application that provides personalized service to its luxury customers. The apps connect merchandise to the brand. The app showing location to all stores worldwide, sale associates are notified of customer’s arrival at the store if they activate and log in the apps. Its stores customer’s databases from their past purchases to preferences. Customer can scan product images from Gucci’s print advertising and directly added to the wish list in the app. By scanning the QR code appears on the touch video in the store, it links the video to customer’s iPhone store in wish list on the app. Pic: Gucci’s mobile app interface. Source: Internet retailer
  35. 35.     35   Nordstrom capitalized Pinterest to made merchandising decision. The retailer has more than 4.5 million users on social network is testing to incorporate customer shopping journey with social media. The rapid growth of Pinterest has led Nordstrom ensuring “Pin” buttons on every merchandise in the online product catalogue. The retailer cleverly used social posting feedback and most popular items being “pinned” to generate consumers insight and ensuring inventory forecast and planning in bricks-and-mortar on store-by-store basis. 75% Pinners are on Pinterest are getting inspiration what to buy compare to 17% on Facebook. Big Pinners can influence followers to create impression, sales interest and generation traffic. Pictures sourced from:, and
  36. 36.     36   Adidas launched Virtual Footwear Wall powered by Intel at Flagship store, London in 2013. The footwear and sports wear manufacturer and retailer is no stranger in leveraging digital technology in the brand communication. In 2013, Adidas once again breaking new ground and differentiated the brand with an interactive virtual shelve. It has rolled out to Japan and fueling the expansion to other cities. According to Intel, this has helped Adidas boots sales by 40%. Customers can pull a product, rotate it 360 degrees, and zoom in on specific features in real time 3D rendered products to select the collection. Additionally, product information, such as features and benefits, which is wearing the product on the field of play (celebrities and athletes), and even social media commentary on the product, is available in real time inventory. According to Chris Aubrey, Adidas’ director of commercial experience, the typical Adidas store stocks around 200 shoes, while the company offers over 4,000. With this, stores with smaller retail space can optimizing their inventory by provide full access of their product range to customers. With the virtual wall, customers have access to the entire Adidas offering. He said “We built it (the adiVerse virtual footwear wall) from the shoppers’ point of view, giving them a way to take more control over their shopping journey.” View video here: Source: and
  37. 37.     37   Topshop delighted fans by transported them to front row of fashion show with Virtual Reality telepresence. The oculus headsets transmitted customers a hybrid of live feed of the Top Shop catwalk show as well as all the backstage action. Cameras recording the scenes were deployed on the catwalk and backstage so that each participant was able look around at models and celebrities as part of the event. Sir Philip Green, owner of Arcadia Group who own Top Shop, said: “The Topshop unique show is going from strength to strength; not only in terms of the collection but also in how we share this with our customers at home and in our stores, giving them an up to the minute runway show experience.” To add drama to the experience, viewers can see graphic crows that are representation of real time tweets posted during the show. With great anticipation I can imagine more executions coming from brands in the VR area, perhaps using Google glasses and other wearable technology devices. View video here: Pic: Virtual Reality Show by Topshop. Source: and
  38. 38.     38   McDonalds rewards its customers with free sundae cone and drives home foot traffic to store. In 2014, in the middle of Bukit Bintang is the busiest shopping district in Kuala Lumpur erected giant interactive billboard of McDonald’s Save the Sundae Cone campaign in Malaysia. With the insight of the city hot weather, strategically use of OOH (out-of-home) advertising media and technology; the campaign garnered buzz, engaged customers and drives home impulse purchase to their stores. The giant billboard allows passerby to interact by scanning the billboard with their smartphones. In the heat of the city climate, the Sundae cone slowly melting away. To “save’ the Sundae cone, the users needs to spin a giant fan that symbolized the gesture of cooling and slowly the melting process. The more participants the slower the Sundae is going to melt away. At the end, all participants’ efforts were rewarded with mobile vouchers on their smartphone to be redeemed at McDonald’s across the street for a free Sundae cone. Reza Rosli, technologist at Arc Worldwide Malaysia said: “The immediate and responsive experience created by real-time interactivity had the potential to create an impression that there was a tangible connection between the audience’s personal devices with the billboard, and enhance the urgency and drama of the campaign we had in mind,” View video here: Pic: Save the sundae cone’s campaign. Source:
  39. 39.     39   Michael Kors jet set to the shore of Shanghai. 2014 April, Michael Kors integrated their Jet Set campaign with a flagship store opening and runway show to boost credibility and prestige in China. The big bang launch was total 360° of sensational experience in both offline and online platforms. Capitalizing on insight of tourism booming in overseas shopping tendencies of Chinese consumers, Michael Kors combined key products with a global travel lifestyle in the Jet Set campaign. The brand created a real-me experience around the PR events with social media, “virtual reality” app that allows fans to experience the event through their smartphones. Prior to launch, pre- PR strategized with Weibo retweet contests and product giveaways on WeChat to build up the anticipation and momentum of the launch. Together with the KOL (key opinion leaders) influence has successfully created massive buzz for Jet Set events on social medias. Using ElleTV brand Youku channel to educate the brand DNA with compliments to their personal styles. The brand drove fans to follow official channels and encouraged sharing of travel- inspired content. Post launch, Michael Kors released the MK360 event experience app and distributed recap videos on Youku to sustain buzz for the campaign. The campaign is continuously generating rich contents that is compelling and relevant to brand DNA has quickly jet-set the brand presence and rose its positioning in Shanghai. View video here:
  40. 40.     40   Pic: Michel Kors 360° launch campaign. Source:
  41. 41.     41   ACUVUE’s contact lenses are category leaders in Singapore and Malaysia. Driven by many market and consumers insights that Myopia and Astigmatism rates are hurting at even younger age. The breakthrough moment of first time wearer and the freedom, mobility and empowerment of confident is the barrier to break from getting spectacle wearers into the lens category. Many of the touch-points unveiled digital led activation with the launch using Facebook page, e-DM with partnered retailers, mobile app, QR-code in OOH to drive foot traffic to stores, bloggers influencers with YouTube video, Instagram and Twitter. Its latest campaign unveiled a series of ‘dares’ on its microsite for contenders to take on and push today’s youths out of their comfort zones. The biggest dare for the regional ASEAN campaign is “ACUVUE’s Dare to be an MTV VJ” collaborated with MTV in 2014. The brand DNA is to ensuring good eye health for consumers starting from their very first pair of contact lenses as they set their sights high to take on new challenges and unleash their potential. Given that this is special professional trade and contact lens is medical device and hybrid of consumer product, consumer is encouraged to get it purchase/prescribe at physical stores as oppose to purchase from e-retailers. To answer to foot traffic of the brands’ retail partners refer as Eye Care Professionals, Acuvue’s has been drumming effort in its CRM recruitment with “sign up of trial lens and include store-locator with consultation appointment on digital platforms. For a professional trade as such, the brand has found equilibrium of digital and physical channels, solved the dilemma of not having e-Commerce presence in light to protect the sensitivity of its distribution but leveraging digital platforms in engaging with right audience by educating awareness and most importantly generate traffic to their partner retailers. View promo video here: Pic: Acuvue’s campaign. Source: Acuvues’ Facebook page and brand site
  42. 42.     42   Conclusion The results of the research not only shows what are the influencing factors and benefits to luxury brand’s value but also able to made rewarding profitable difference in the business performance for luxury companies that taking into consideration of this consumer paradigm shift. Clearly the magic of bricks and mortal retail channel is not sufficient and luxury brands bound to join the bandwagon of riding this wave even it’s considerable slow comparing to mass’s market retailers. Despite the challenges, the convergence of offline and online worlds could seem like a threat to the unprepared luxury companies however if luxury companies ready in embracing new seamless Omni-channel world the result can be promising. Achieving an Omni-channel reality requires execution courage to move forward, putting right organization structure, partnering with global powerhouse whom powered by technology, analytics, flexible and mobility operation and marketing intelligence. Be ready to cultivate this in company’s DNA internally by analyzes deeply its internal business model and capability, with call for prioritize focus plans to review short-term and long-term goals, integrating across all business functions by bridging products and services, training or adopting managers with acquired skillset of this new understanding of consumer behaviors and technology awareness can significantly move the needle. For a sustainable business future, luxury companies need to move forward with validated hypothesis, thought through strategy and impeccable execution in order to out-win their ever-expanding competitive playing field. Ultimately it’s boils down to offering holistic customers experience across channels to customers from the brands they desired and values. To conclude this research, I would like to quote with two sentiments from both mass and luxury mega retailers that precisely capturing this formidable trend. "It's clear to me the customer has evolved and changed the way they shop and we have to change with them. There's no going back. The power of e-commerce extends far beyond the keyboard and onto the sales floor.” - Lundgren, Chairman of Macy’s - “We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company because it is all part of the overall experience.” - Christopher Bailey, CEO Burberry -
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