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The Omni Award

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We have nine candidates for this year’s Innovation Award: Argos, Bathstore, Evans Cycles, Fat Face, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, John Lewis, M&S and Waitrose. Please read through their commendations below before submitting your vote at the bottom of the page. Choose your favourite from the list or select up to three in order of preference.

“Omni channel, omni device, omni-present in international markets… eCommerce continues to explode in every dimension. We know how challenging core ecommerce is, before increasing complexity exponentially with the new dimension of channels (store, mobile, tablets, kiosks, digital display, print…), languages and customs, international regulations… This Award is for a company that astounds us with its appetite for “more” and its ability to tame complexity and deliver in every dimension, simultaneously. In our dreams this is the Award we’d like to think of deserving.”


• The retailer actively uses all channels available – online, stores, catalogue/print, contact centre, mobile…

• The integration of the channels is as seamless as possible under their brand

• The retailer’s approach to different customer segments, needs and behaviours is integrated across all channels

• The ‘one-ness’ of the brand – wherever, whenever, whichever way…


Argos [show-irdx rarg]

Argos is doing everything in multichannel – stores, mobile, tablets… Ironically they’ve removed the ‘paper’ channel with the replacement of catalogues in-store, but mailing continues so they still have a ‘post/print’ channel.

We’ve outlined their activities in the Innovation Award, but in summary:

– online sales accounted for 44% of Argos’ total sales

– mobile within that is 89%, totalling 18% of overall sales

– click and collect is its own invention, arguably

– partnering with eBay extends the C&C and store capabilities to a third party.

Argos may be the ‘grand-daddy’ of omnichannel, but in 2013 it’s rediscovered its mojo to be a benchmark retailer.

Bathstore [show-irdx rbat]

Bathstore – does what it says on the tin? Well, in addition to operating 172 stores nationwide and selling online, Bathstore has taken an obvious but important step towards extending ‘multichannel’ from being simply a transactional construct to supporting the extended purchasing/getting experience.

Typically customers will look at many options over an extended period; request, edit and amend multiple quotes and designs, put products together with services and then manage installation times. We all know too that recommendations and ratings are vital – especially when it comes to plumbing.

Although not flashy or radical, the Bathstore capabilities caught our eye by integrating quotes management, installatio management, reviews. Perhaps not at the scale of others, but a worthy extension to the scope and remit of digital within all aspects of an extended sale and service cycle.

Evans Cycles [show-irdx rcyc]

Evans has ridden the recent cycling boom, bringing its roots as a London custom frame-maker to a broad audience – from 6 stores in 2000 to nearly 50 now, the company turns over c£113m.

Bikes are not a simple purchase: needing to be fitted, expensive enough to give pause during purchase, redolent with accessories (from safety to style), too big for a letterbox (!) and part of a multi-year relationship for consumables and repairs, Evan identified that ‘being multichannel’ needed more than just a website.

For this Award they’ve caught our eye for:

– the development of in-store collection points, including extensive store fit-outs and signage, significant staff training, experience development (reducing wait, enhancing experience, integrating learning and safety). In addition the development of real-time stock information has helped the customer know where the bike is or could be and therefore have greater, more relevant choice. It’s not about pushing C&C per se, but increasing customer satisfaction

– integrating reward, service and experience into collection. Store staff are rewarded for web sales and the aim is to use the store estate to give an advantage of pure-play retailers. Keeping the passionate, knowledgeable store team at the front of service

– Collection appointments are made (and communicated/managed over mobile). This turns the collection into an event, increases satisfaction, allows the stores to plan the full time needed, and increases sales.

Fat Face [show-irdx rfaf]

FatFace has been on our radar for a while as brand busy focusing upon product and capability to drive the next phase of growth. 2013 has been a year in which the underlying work has come to fruition with online sales increasing come 55% to represent 14% of overall sales. At this level ecommerce is no longer an add-on and the team at FatFace have been working to integrate online into their extensive catalogue production cycles and the in-store experience.

The ongoing store opening programme has reached 208 stores, and eCommerce has grown further in 2014 with sales up 5% YOY and buoyed by a Boxing Day result as the highest day’s online sales to date.

A web revamp has given online a boost, while a year-long investment in new POS has brought multichannel to the stores with online information available at tills, plus online promotions and full access to group stock allowing online ordering from the stores.

FatFace is commended for having developed its web, store and operational processes in tandem to provide a seamless multichannel experience to customers, without downtime or glitch, while growing.


Harvey Nichols [show-irdx rhni]

Harvey Nichols has been online for a while, but the web operation has seemed somewhat separate from the core store. The recent changes have redresses this with a new mobile and tablet-optimised website (of course), underpinned with a major upgrade to multichannel capabilities, namely real-time stock information available across platforms. This makes the web and mobile interfaces into useful ways to ‘shop the store’.

A further omninchannel development is the creation of a customer ‘account’ section that is available to the in-store Style Advisors, using digital to integrate the distinctive offline experience, rather than creating a parallel analog. Comparing April 2013 to April 2014: Mobile transactions +49%, revenue +135%. Revenue from tablet +33%. Average order value (all devices including PC) +20%.

House of Fraser [show-irdx rhof]

We have covered House of Fraser’s innovation levels in the Innovation Award, above, but in this area we commend their mastery of format and capability.

In addition to the new engagement approaches across channel, HoF manages thousands of suppliers, click and collect and digital stores, and some category-leading capabilities in delivery offers to customer – 10pm cut-off for next day in-store delivery, for example.

These developments were recognised in a very positive review ( and latterly in the acquisition by Sanpower the new owners singled out HoF’s capabilities as a reason for the purchase: “It has the type of department store management system that the Chinese department stores right now lack, especially its buyer system, house brands and also European supply chains,” said Mr Yuan. “That’s exactly what the Chinese are looking for, greatly lack, and are eager to learn.”


HoF has been frequently mentioned in these Awards, but in 2014 we strongly commend the steady growth in capability and delivery across their complex, extensive activities.

John Lewis [show-irdx rjlw]

The John Lewis story for 2014 is a case of ‘steady as she goes’. From being the established, recognised leader in omnichannel, John Lewis has further improved.

£1bn in online sales (as part of £4bn turnover for the brand), with click and collect providing 57% growth. Further extending their collect-at-Waitrose has benefitted both brands and bridged the homewares-and-fashion offer with food and wine.

Developments in the year have included improved order-from-store capabilities and product information, supported by the new web platform, but the summary would have to be “one of the best has become even better”. Is that enough to outside the progress of others during the year?


M&S [show-irdx rmas]

We have set out the developments at M&S in the Innovation Award citation above, and in our view these bring the retailer to the state of a competent Omnichannel retailer. In addition to individually-capable channels in web and stores, the Shop Your Way initiative has put the customer and her convenience at the heart of the retailer’s language, values and behaviour.

This guiding principle – across food, fashion and other categories; web, mobile, tablet and multiple store formats – has been instrumental in blending the services into a coherent, single experience for customers under their brand.

The progress at M&S has been transformative within the last year, hence their commendation in this category.

Waitrose [show-irdx rwai]

This is the year in which Waitrose emerges from the ‘shadow’ of its sister (?) John Lewis as a capable performer, and also ploughs its own furrow separate from Ocado on the grocery front.

The join capability in Click and Collect has been the group’s success story, but it’s worth remembering that it’s the capabilities across Waitrose’s 300+ stores that bring reach to John Lewis’ 50-ish stores. Some 60% of John Lewis’ C&C is now collected in a Waitrose.

The relaunch of in the year has brought attention to the distinctiveness that they bring to grocery shopping. Waitrose customers have cross-platform access to previous shopping lists/orders. In addition, rich content of recipes and articles can be accessed while on phone and tablet – in-store or at home. Customers can browse store iPads or use free WiFi on their own devices, or scan product barcodes through the app in-store or at home to access product information and easily add them to favourites to shop later. While this may appear par for the course, it’s notable that it’s been delivered largely within the last year – a significant effort and achievement.

The company offers order fulfilment by home delivery or collection at local store, lockers or drive-through.

We comment Waitrose for 2014 since it’s covered so much ground, across all challenges, to such a high level within so short a time. Without doubt a contender for progress within the year.


Next up is the Mobile Award.

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