What's the Role of the Store in Omnichannel Retail?

20 February 2020

Customer experience

A good retail omnichannel experience is a lot like baking chocolate chip cookies.

Think of each channel involved in omnichannel, like your website, Instagram, Pinterest and physical stores, as the ingredients.

Some of the ingredients might be nice by themselves, like the chocolate chips, the sugar or even the entire stick of butter, depending on how rough your week has been.

But ultimately when the ingredients are combined in the right way at the right time, the result is so much better, because all the ingredients have different roles and complement each other perfectly.

It's become pretty difficult to deny the superiority of an omnichannel shopping experience. Brands with a strong omnichannel presence retain 89% of their customers, versus only 33% for brands with a weak omnichannel presence.

73% of today's shoppers shop across multiple channels, and 85% of digital consumers start their purchase on one device and finish on another.

But with 80% of sales still occurring in-store, it's evident that stores have an integral role to play in the omnichannel experience, in the same way that chocolate chips are kind of a big deal when it comes to making cookies.

But what exactly is this role? And what can you do as a retailer if you feel like your stores aren't the perfect part of your omnichannel experience, just yet?

Here are 3 purposes every store should fulfil in the perfect omnichannel shopping journey, and some best practices for helping your stores get there. 

Short on time? Watch this short video summary instead!


1) The role of the store is to immerse.

Stores immerse customers in the physical embodiment of your brand in a way that other channels can't. That doesn't make stores better or more valuable - it just makes them different.

From store layout to visual merchandising, from the music to the air freshener and even the free food or drink samples, stores immerse each of your customers' 5 senses in your brand.

And when everything is executed perfectly, customers are physically experiencing your brand - they're living your brand story for as long as they're in the store.

But rule #1 of omnichannel is that every experience, no matter where it happens, has to be consistent.

So the role of stores is to translate the design and customer journey your website and social media channels offer into real life.

How to make your stores immersive:

2) The role of the store is to connect.

Stores provide a space for connecting with other people in the form of getting assistance and advice from sales associates and even interacting with other customers.

Humans are innately social creatures and we're wired to seek out connections with others, so the experience your customers have with your store employees is a critical one. It takes the whole experience to the next level.

The way your store employees communicate with your customers is a continuation of the brand messaging and tone of voice they find online.

Your store employees' product knowledge should be consistent with information customers can find online.

You'd never want your Instagram posts or cart abandonment emails to sound apathetic or detached, so you definitely wouldn't want your store employees to sound like anything other than passionate brand ambassadors.

How to foster connection in your stores by turning employees into passionate brand ambassadors:

  • Equip your store teams with mobile devices so they can help shoppers order out of stock products, personalize recommendations and find answers to customer questions. Better yet, give them access to a knowledge base that's always kept up-to-date with anything they might need to know on the job
  • Rethink your training and tailor it to the realities of being a store employee.

Related: A Guide to Effectively Training Frontline Employees

  • Engage your store employees by connecting employees to your brand mission - and each other - through effective internal communications. Show them the meaning in what they do by recognizing and rewarding achievements and creating incentives to succeed.

Related: The Complete Guide to Retail Employee Engagement

3) The role of the store is to inspire.

For some, the decision to purchase starts when they see an inspiring display in-store, even if they decide to complete their purchase on another channel.

For others, the decision starts online or on social media, but it's seeing the product in-store that seals the deal. In fact, 56 cents of every dollar spent in-store is influenced by online interactions or research, according to Deloitte.

And for most of us, seeing that perfectly displayed item or irresistible sale is more than enough to trigger an impulse buy right there and then.

That's because being in a store where everything is just right puts us in a certain frame of mind where we're looking for new ideas and new items to add to our baskets.

One study found that the average consumer spends $5400 a year on impulse purchases. There's no denying that stores actively inspire - and trigger- future purchases and customer loyalty.

The bottom line is, this means more revenue.

But keeping stores inspiring means retailers must stay ahead of the curve of innovation and be continually aware of how customers are responding to in-store experiences, so they can always be crafting and implementing better ones. 

How to stay ahead of the curve and make your stores more inspiring:

It seems like only yesterday that "omnichannel retail" was a new, exciting and slightly overused buzzword. It also seems like only yesterday that people worried that stores would somehow lose out or become unnecessary as omnichannel retail experiences took off.

Now we can see with our 2020 hindsight vision (see what we did there?) that this was never the case. Stores always have been, and always will be, an integral part of the perfect customer experience.


YOOBIC helps retailers like Lacoste, Kenzo and Pixi Beauty create perfect in-store experiences that immerse, connect and inspire.

See how YOOBIC can help you integrate your stores into a true omnichannel shopping experience through improved store operations, collaborative team training and employee engagement!