New Look, Apple, GO Outdoors; they’ve all got something in common, and that’s a leading multi-channel strategy.

Add to Cart Ecommerce picEvery retail business owner dreams of making it big, and some have done just that. Their success is not a matter of luck or chance, but the result of planning, sound investment and hard work. Many have also taken the time to look at what’s worked – and what hasn’t – for other businesses, and learned from it.

So who are the multi-channel retail success stories of today, and how did they get there?

(Please note: Images are illustrative and not actual representations of the companies and products mentioned)

1. Customer focus, New Look style

Award winning fashion retailer New Look began with a single store in the small English country town of Taunton. Today it boasts over 1,100 stores globally, including shops in the Middle East, Singapore, Russia… and it’s still in Taunton!

Mens Fashion

A closer look at New Look:

  • Customers: 14.5 million worldwide

  • UK teenwear market share: 11.6%

  • UK womenswear market share: 10.5%

  • Social media: gained over 100,000 new Facebook fans in just one week in February 2012

  • Expanding into new markets through a franchise model, with over 100 stores already operating.

New Look’s success is supercharged by their “obsessive customer focus”. Behind the frocks and the shoes, the wheels of creativity and productivity spin furiously.

The firm also values strategic long-term partnerships with suppliers, and invests in the multi- channel software needed to keep operations running smoothly. In keeping with their image, as a business at the forefront of fashion and new ideas, New Look introduced augmented reality into its marketing in 2012.

2. Apple bites a chunk out of retail

If you think Apple is a technology company, you’re wrong. It’s a multi-channel retailer which also designs and builds eye-wateringly cool technology products. The iPhone and iPad have redefined mobile computing over the last few years.

Iphone in use

We’re all familiar with the ‘garage to glory’ tales of technology start-ups. Apple’s success stemmed from a near-ruthless commitment to usability, desirability and quality. Their products needed to look good and be easy to use, with a customer service experience as elegant and effortless as their hardware.

Growth in Apple’s retail orchard

  • Founded in 1976, opened first online store 1997, opened first bricks and mortar store 2001

  • 2012: 395 stores in 14 countries

  • Turnover in FY 2009: $11.75 Billion.

Apple wasn’t just an early e-commerce adopter – it is also acclaimed for its revolutionary high street stores. From their highly trained (some might say evangelical) staff, to their sleek interior design, Apple stores have changed people’s expectations of technology shopping. Apple stores’ innovative use of mobile point of sale – Apple’s shops were some of the first where staff could serve customers anywhere in the shop, eliminating queuing – reduces lost sales through walkouts and creates a very personal shopping experience.

Apple is famously secretive about how it operates internally, including what multi-channel software powers its multi-million dollar manufacturing, warehousing and distribution processes. Whatever it is, the customer experience tells us that their back office systems run super-smoothly, and profit figures tell their own tale of how costs are being controlled.

3. GO Outdoors enjoys a retail adventure

Currently one of the UK’s fastest growing retailers, outdoor equipment and clothing specialist GO Outdoors has sprung up from deep Yorkshire roots. For decades it was the Camping & Caravanning Centre in Sheffield, with an established reputation for quality and customer service.

Camping sunset

In 1998, 30 years after it began, store manager John Graham led a buyout of the business. He knew the firm’s passion for its customers could translate into a national multi-channel retail opportunity.

GO Outdoors made it into the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 of Britain’s high growth firms, in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Landmarks in the GO Outdoors story

  • 1969 – The Camping & Caravanning Centre opens its doors, selling tents and furniture

  • 1980s – The store becomes a retailer of outdoor products

  • 1998 – John Graham leads buyout

  • Early 2000s – Two new stores open to prove the concept

  • 2004 – First GO Outdoors store opens in Coventry

  • 2012 – Over 40 stores across the UK and an online store.

The GO Outdoors mission is to provide a wide range of products at the lowest prices, “All served by a friendly team of outdoor enthusiasts”.

“It became obvious there were many people who weren’t being served well by the outdoor market… Our strength lies in the fact that we’re able to cater for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts across a number of activities.”

John Graham, Chief Executive

How to achieve retail success:

Two women in a clothes shop

  • Keep the customer on the throne. Anticipate their needs, meet their needs, and do it all with flair and enthusiasm.

  • Never stop learning. It’s no surprise that today’s retail stars have been in the business for years. They’ve made mistakes, learned lessons, and turned the experiences into the building blocks for growth.

  • Invest in infrastructure. It might look shiny and attractive to the customer, but without a solid core of reliable systems, a smaller retailer lacks the capacity to grow. What’s behind the scenes is just as important as what’s out front, as retail success stories have proven time after time.

  • But don’t forget to watchout for the pitfalls of multi-channel retail. For a look at the problems of growth and how to avoid them, read the eGuide The Pitfalls of Moving into Omni-Channel Retail