Retailers should note that nowadays most customers are comfortable and in some cases prefer previewing, researching, and even purchasing products online. In fact, e-commerce continuously displays double digit sales growth year over year. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to have an online presence, keeping in mind that they can and have to leverage their ability to deliver a superior customer experience also online and that their actual stores can be a benefit, rather than a liability.
A great example is luxury watch retailer Tourneau. The high-end retailer successfully modernized and updated the in-store experience when it opened its concept store in New York on June 2011. But its real achievement has been the ability to provide a consistent experience through different channels, namely the retail stores, the e-commerce store and the call center.
Its aim was to build an online operation that would provide a luxurious and data-rich online experience, but also lead customers into Tourneau's brick-and-mortar stores, where they could enjoy the exceptional service and the superior product knowledge. Essentially the retailer envisioned an online presence that would be a driver of engagement for their customers.
To achieve that vision, Tourneau designed a website where customers can browse all the products that it carries and learn about horology and the company itself. It also introduced the "watch tray" feature, which allows customers to put aside up to five watches and then schedule an appointment to see those items in the store.
The feature enables the sales professionals to deliver a truly unique sales presentation. Through an i-pad, the sales professional can see the customer's online selection and past purchases. The information is invaluable, as the sales professional prepares a couple of watches to present to the client in addition to his/her "watch tray' choices and brushes up on all details pertaining to those watches. The result is that when a customer uses the tray feature and sets up an appointment through the website, the conversion rate is six times higher than its average.
The online operation is also integrated with the call center, as the customer has the option of speaking on the phone with an expert. The call center expert is able to access the customer's online "watch tray" and provide him/her with all the necessary information.
Tourneau's solution should be an inspiration for all brick-and-mortar retailers, as they develop their own multi-channel strategy, noting that the keys to success are an integrated operation that adds value to the existing channel and a superior customer experience that is consistent with the in-store one.