From store visit to online check-out: How one retailer tackled omnichannel by focusing on 4 key aspects

Marit Kloosterboer / December 2019 / Netherlands, Retail, Case Studies, Omnichannel

With digital devices being used before, during and after store visits, brands can only be present at all touchpoints of a consumer journey if they seamlessly operate between both worlds. It’s this omnichannel approach to marketing that helped outdoor furniture supplier Kees Smit grow their revenue by 1600% in the space of six years — not bad for a retailer that originally started business selling its products in 1942 by horse-and-cart, and until 2013 had only one physical store and a fledgling website.

Working alongside their long-term agency partner, Adwise, the retailer aimed to get an omnichannel perspective of customer behaviour at scale, gather actionable insights, and deliver a seamless shopping experience — on- and offline, 12 months of the year.

As these goals required an agile approach, Kees Smit adopted a “trial and error” mentality, with testing being an integral part of their success. To make it manageable, they broke their approach into four strategies that each tackled a piece of the puzzle.

1. Treat online and offline as one

“We see a clear ROPO trend among our customers – where they research online but purchase offline. This is why we don’t consider our digital and offline sales departments to be separate,” explains Mitchel Oude Nijhuis, Co-owner and Director of E-commerce and Marketing at Kees Smit. “They have omnichannel KPIs to achieve, and work toward them together.” To ensure KPIs are measured across all channels, the retailer monitors the cost-to-revenue of omnichannel on a weekly basis, and links offline revenue to Google Analytics through a custom measurement solution developed by Adwise.

But integrating this approach into every aspect of your business requires thought. “With customer-centricity at the core of our business, it means that we value UX testing as high as bi-annual phone calls and one-to-one interviews with shoppers,” Oude Nijhuis explains. “To offer customers a seamless shopping experience, you need to talk to them at every step of the way.”

2. Consider mobile’s impact on the offline journey

While Oude Nijhuis and the team at Adwise knew their customers were researching online before buying in-store, they couldn’t pinpoint the exact impact of digital on offline revenue.

Adding offline revenue insights to Google Ads offered a solution, as it helped them reveal that mobile proved 13X more valuable when including the impact of offline sales. “This meant that our return on investment in Google Ads was much higher than we thought,” confirms Thijs Wolbers, head of e-commerce at Adwise.

Turning this discovery into action, the retailer boosted their mobile budget, invested in mobile ads, improved the user experience by reducing load times on the mobile website, and refining the mobile customer journey.

“These new insights enabled us to approach mobile with laser focus,” says Oude Nijhuis. As a result, shoppers can now scan QR codes to search for product information and access the mobile site to read comments, browse FAQs or live chat with support staff.

3. Bring online experiences in-store

But introducing mobile to their stores was not all Kees Smit did. “Our stores are a crucial part of the user journey, but so is the online experience, so we decided to bring them closer together,” Oude Nijhuis explains.

During feedback sessions, customers had expressed the desire to see products in their real environment before making a purchase. Now, in-store visitors can use large screens to view their garden via Google Maps, helping them to determine exact dimensions and, with the help of some special software, discover how the sun and shade changes throughout the day.

In addition to improving the customer experience, these initiatives also help Kees Smit to measure customer behaviour and proactively boost their sales. “Research and consideration can significantly lengthen the customer journey, so offering customers the opportunity to do this in-store helps us close the sales loop quicker,” explains Oude Nijhuis.

4. Use the low season to drive foot traffic when it matters

Naturally, seasonality is key for an outdoor furniture supplier. But with omnichannel insights, Kees Smit learned that off-peak times can, in fact, be profitable. “A negative return on ad spend in the low season (January) is fine, as data tells us our customers will visit the store during peak season (April, May, June),” says Oude Nijhuis.

That’s why the team uses this consideration stage of the journey to raise awareness and maintain visibility, so that customers know where to go once summer rolls around. They also use this low season as a “test and see” phase, ensuring they’re ready to apply findings in the run-up and deliver a better customer experience during their high season.

By putting the customer first and optimising the experiences that matter most to them, Kees Smit managed to grow beyond the Netherlands, with ecommerce stores established in both Germany and Belgium, and plans for further international expansion. Oude Nijhuis explains, “As a small company with big competitors, we have to be clever in how we present ourselves. Our expertise and offline shopping experience is unique, and we believe our customers value that.”

Key takeaways:

  • Start by setting clear goals;
  • Adopt an agile approach;
  • Don’t be afraid to try and test;
  • Ensure online and offline teams work as one unity by giving them shared KPIs;
  • Take it step by step; breaking your omnichannel strategy down into manageable pieces will help you stay on top of things in the long run.
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