How BabyOne achieves a customer-centric omnichannel transformation
by Julia Pott (exclusively for EuroShop.mag)
Customers don’t think in “offline” or “online” channels when they search for products and retailers. What does this mean for retailers like BabyOne? How does the company implement its omnichannel strategy and connect its specialty stores with online channels? Anna Weber and Jan Weischer are both managing directors of BabyOne and gave us a behind-the-scenes look.
Anna Weber: Everything we do always puts customer needs first – and the best way to meet and satisfy these needs is when we “think and act omnichannel”! Digitization enables us to reach our customers through a vast number of channels.
No matter how they find us, our goal is to create and deliver a stellar customer experience across every channel. We have steadily focused our attention on the mobile experience, made it possible to schedule appointments online and improved our customer-centric strategies – these measures subsequently enabled us to increase the conversion rate by over 100 percent.
Our customers can also access our digital services via our social media channels. We also took our key consulting skills to the digital realm and introduced live virtual consultations pertaining to relevant topics such as midwifery consulting, safe babywearing techniques, and child seat guidance.
You probably had to introduce new technologies or solutions to facilitate these services.
Anna Weber: We implemented simple online appointment scheduling tools and relied on standard interfaces to popular digital calendars. This made it very easy for our specialty stores and customers to add appointments on their own calendars.
What’s more, we optimized and upgraded our “online-to-offline” marketing at the end of last year. We can now run so-called “local inventory ads” via Google to promote our in-store inventory on search engines. This is also a great tool to increase customer footfall and drive sales at our brick-and-mortar stores.
Jan, what has your experience been with this process and what are some hurdles?
Jan Weischer: The technical setup for the online appointments was easy. The challenge for us was to train our employees across 100 stores in using the tool and becoming comfortable with the application. This was made possible by short instructional videos on our in-house eLearning platform.
We are amid a transformation process that involves multiple technical aspects. To make your company fit for the future, you must increase process efficiency. Digital technologies are not only imperative for business success, but they also create many opportunities. It is important to always keep moving forward, to take a customer-centric approach, and to continuously adapt your processes to keep up with the ever-changing needs and wants of your customers.
How do you serve different (online) channels equally well and create a uniform customer experience?
Anna Weber: A uniform cross-channel customer experience builds brand trust and real customer loyalty in our company.
It is vital to take a structured approach when it comes to the individual channels. We developed a detailed campaign schedule that indicates the channel-specific themes and their timeline. The feedback gives us valuable insights that allow us to make continuous improvements. We learned many valuable lessons last year and now know which topics our target audiences are particularly interested in, yet we also continue to test new ideas. This helps us to quickly recognize emerging trends to stay relevant and engaged with our target audience.
Our customers take a cross-channel approach to buy their products. Special sales promotions give them a chance to take full advantage of both worlds: They either nab a sale and buy online or they can reserve an item online to purchase in one of our stores.
You also offer “ship-from-store”, a process where you use stock from your stores to fulfill orders. What are the technical and organizational requirements you need for this service?
Jan Weischer: Nearly a year and a half ago we switched our logistics to ship-from-store operation and brought all our brick-and-mortar stores into the world of online shopping by linking them to our online store. This was a crucial step for us in our journey to omnichannel! This is how we connect our online store with brick-and-mortar retail and strengthen our specialty stores at the same time. It also benefits our customers because they have access to products from all our stores.
From an organizational perspective, we had to make sure the process is easy for our teams in the stores, which is why we designed it based on our existing Click & Collect system. From a technical angle, one of the biggest challenges pertained to the distribution logistics and the subsequent modification to our inventory management system. The objective was to keep the delivery route to the customer as short as possible, while trying to avoid split shipments at the same time.
How do you ensure a seamless (digital) integration and collaboration of all areas?
Anna Weber: Apart from integrated technologies and tools – which are obviously very important – you also need to adopt a teamwork mindset. All of us at BabyOne know we are most successful as a team and can learn from others by seeing things from a different perspective. From our operational headquarters, our specialty stores to our franchise partners: we all want to actively shape our company’s future and boldly try new things to redefine the retail experience.
Do you have any upcoming digital and omnichannel projects?
Jan Weischer: Right now, we are testing a multitude of new things on all channels and are learning through our experience. This creates many new opportunities for us as a retailer. We have many big plans for the future, but we don’t want to give away too many secrets just yet. Having said that, we always look for ways to optimize the customer experience.