Total Retail recently released its annual ranking of the top 100 publicly traded retailers, and athletic wear company Lids Sports Group found themselves in the #1 position.
We are thrilled for our client Lids on this recognition, and for its commitment to continuously transforming itself to compete, win, and differentiate in an increasingly sophisticated omnichannel retail economy.
What can other retailers learn from Lids’ success and customer-obsessed strategy? What are the keys to providing a best-in-class omnichannel experience?
With the elusive consumer in control, each experience across the shopping lifecycle is an opportunity to acquire, engage, and retain them. Customer experience is the new brand currency, and taking a deliberate position on how each of the experiences you are providing or enabling should be foundational to managing this program. Understanding your customer segments, personas, and journeys ensures that the features you deploy on the back end support the experiences that your customers need on the front end. And it doesn’t end with the features and technology, it means carrying your brand message across all channels as well. Companies who blend a great customer experience with their brand values on every touchpoint will fulfill a complete omnichannel promise.
Lids has worked to create a unified experience that allows customers to engage with the brand however, whenever, and wherever they want. But truly understanding and improving the customer journey requires a deep understanding of who the customer is, how they shop, and what motivates them. Lids started with a strategy that was customer-first, consistent, simple, flexible, and technology enabled.
Successful retailers must greatly improve the operations needed to keep up with customer demands and cost and efficiency pressures. Amazon and others have upped the ante in the ability to scale the supply chain and build in the agility to flex with tightly coupled order management, merchandising, promotion and other systems into a loosely coupled but highly interdependent data loop. Relying on data-driven decisions and frictionless systems also requires elevating your data and integration architecture, including ESB and API technologies, microservice and SOA architectures, and reporting, BI, and big data strategies.
Lids is leveraging technology and data for fulfillment and order management, in order to meet customers’ expectations. That includes real-time inventory and real-time orders and updates, whenever and wherever the customer needs it. Order management systems help to modernize these critical elements of the retail infrastructure, scale it for growth, and give Lids the tools to meet its goal of letting customers engage with the brand however they want.
Be Enterprise Aligned
To deliver an omnichannel experience to customers, you have to strategically align your customer experience, business and retail operations, and the technologies that enable them both. Omitting one of these or failing to connect these layers together through deliberate process engineering, requirements definition, design, and change management will likely result in suboptimal performance, rework, delays, and dissatisfied customers.
Lids took top-down leadership approach in their omnichannel commitment, ensuring a seamless coordination of marketing, operations, merchandising, and IT. They recognized that a tightly coupled relationship between technology and the business is a predecessor to any technology solution.
We’ve worked with more than 25 of the Top 100 retailers from the Total Retail report (Vitamin Shoppe (#2), Zumiez (#3), Bass Pro (#5), and Urban Outfitters (#5) to name a few), and we know that to be a top retailer, you must be continuously adapting to reach today’s always-on shopper. They are ever-more knowledgeable about your products, your competitors, and what their friends are thinking. They are firmly in control of their paths to purchase.
That means being even more relevant with your brand, more personalized with your offers, and become more convenient – above and beyond simply being the best value.
Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient Digital, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.