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Will Lockie is Multichannel Head at Evans Cycles, responsible for helping a 90 year old retail brand bridge the gap between online and offline. 

He'll be presenting at our JUMP event on October 9, on the subject of identifyng drivers for multichannel shopping behaviour to improve multichannel experience. 

Here, Will talks about the company's approach to multichannel retail, the value of a physical presence, click and collect, using QR codes and more...

Can you give us a taste of your presentation at JUMP?

We’ll talk about how we are integrating web in store, some of the key trends, learnings and pitfalls along the way we’ve encountered, and the how / why of driving incrementals sales through services like click and collect.

I’ll also touch a bit on some recent research we did into our multichannel customers. All very practical, here and now type of stuff.

How do you track customers across different channels? Can you accurately track the customer journey across desktop, mobile and in-store?

It depends really on the definition of tracking there. Yes, we track what our multichannel customers spend, what channel they spend in and on what etc – so that provides good insight.

But when it comes to tracking customer activity (especially just browsing behaviour) across devices, no we are not quite there yet.

The first goal for us is to track and change the customer experience across devices against a login, then browsing behaviour.

I think that is quite a common story amongst most retailers right now.

Do you view offline and online sales entirely separately, or do you try to link them together in some way?

Like a lot of businesses that have been around a long time, and then added an ecommerce channel, we ‘ve seen the effect of that (the ecommerce business operated in a bit of a silo for a while).

What we’re doing now is pulling them back together, and understanding the impact one has on the other much better. I think we take a sensible view on that – whilst we don’t yet track to the nth degree the effect a PPC click has on a store transaction for example, we know nearly all customers research online first, so the web drives a lot of footfall into stores.

We are happy to push customers to stores in that way even though it might mean a lost sale for the ecomm team! It makes sense for more considered purchases like a bike anyway.

Customers want to see and touch products first. For sales where both channels are involved, like click and collect, colleagues are bonused and rewarded on those sales also.

What digital technologies does Evans Cycles currently implement in-store, and do you have plans to introduce any new tech in the near future?

We rolled out a wireless network and ipads to all stores this year. This had two immediate quick wins – the first is that it can assists sales and conversations with customers.

Now colleagues are armed with as much information about products as customers and they can read reviews, specs together, away from a busy till point that might have a queue. This makes for a much better experience in store for customers.  

It also means if we don’t have a particular item in stock, we can order it for the customer and have it at store next day. So it’s a great tool to not lose a sale and colleagues love using them!  

The second quick win there was using the iPads to step through online finance applications with customers. Previously this process was all done on paperwork, sending back and forth from store to head office and basically an admin nightmare – now customers can get a finance decision on the spot and walk away with a bike there and then.

Making the iPads transactional is the next step, though I learnt recently there are compliance issues there from the card schemes which can make life difficult.

Do you see 'showrooming' customers as a threat? 

No, it’s just the way people shop now and should be embraced.  I know that if we offer a great experience in stores, our customers place a lot of value on that.

My colleague David Moth recently wrote about your use of QR codes in stores, how has this worked for you? How do you measure it? 

Well I’ve love to say we are tracking that to the nth degree as well, but we are not quite there yet.

Our view is that we should try things like that, anything that can bring web into store further has to be worth a try – especially if it can be automated, like the printing of the POS, with Bazaarvoice reviews and a QR link to specs.

We do see a fair amount of traffic referred to the mobile site as a result so we think it is a good thing and truly useful if you are shopping around for something like a bike.

We are quite a long way off linking up someone logging onto to a wireless network, identifying, and pinging an offer based on their in store scans though!

How do you feel about the term 'omnichannel'

Not fussed Graham J! Personally we just use the term multichannel as a cover all for three main areas really  

  1. Order management,  so for example your click and collect services.
  2. Offering a seamless customer experience, for example having a saved basket across devices.  
  3. Making all our services available in all channels and devices, for example at the moment you cannot book a service for your bike online.

I think both multichannel and omnichannel mean the same things basically, improving the customer experience.

If people want to use ‘omnichannel’ as some higher state of being over ‘multichannel’ I get that, but to a customer all they care about is a good joined up experience from a brand.

The homepage on your mobile site doesn't display too many products and the nav is 'hidden'. Is this deliberate, something you have tested? If so, can you explain the approach?  

It wasn’t something that came out of testing per se, more around the design in terms of all the thing the homepage needs to do, search, store look up etc.

Back when the site went live a couple of years ago, there weren’t really any conventions around mobile design – there probably are a few more now though, so we redesigned the navigation about 12 months ago.

Cycles are generally a relatively expensive purchase. Does this mean customers are more likely to head into a store to get a feel for the product before buying? 

Spot on! Yes, they are a  complex (and sometimes expensive)  product to purchase, with all sorts of differing sizing stands, compatibility and so on. So customers are much more likely to want to go in store, take a test ride, and ask any questions.

That’s why we think stores add a lot of value to the purchase process. There are some things you just cannot do online and it adds a lot of value to the customer journey.

And it’s not just bikes – most things to do with cycling often need a bit of advice, plus you’ve also got the whole thing around clothing, and more personal items like that – customers want to check them out first.

In general, bikes are pretty difficult to retail - bulky, expensive, can get damaged in transit, and you need a qualified mechanic with expensive tools and a workshop to build or fix them. Actually a lot of customers just like coming into the stores to talk to our mechanics about how to fix things.

I think the funniest comment I have seen is that customers just like the smell of bike shops, so will find an excuse to visit. Cyclists will know this is true J

How is click and collect working for you? 

Really well, it’s an area we have seen a big growth in over the last 12 months.

Customers use it to combine the best of both worlds – access to wide range of product and deals online, and then being able to check out the product or talk to a colleague about it in store when they collect, at a time that is convenient for them.

We expect click and collect sales to keep growing as a share of web orders, and we’ve got some more changes coming to the service shortly.

How do you identify and measure multichannel shopping behaviour? 

Like most we are measuring sales across channels, and looking at the mix – store only customers, web only customers, call centre only, and multichannel customers.

We aren’t quite at the point where we can say multichannel customers are worth X over single channel only customers, but I think there is a good understanding generally that multichannel customers are likely to spend more, shop across more categories, be exposed to more marketing messages and so on.

We also use Net Promoter score as a measure for click and collect customers, driven off the back of the post purchase email.

Graham Charlton

Published 1 October, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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