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Gap Takes the Reins on US Omnichannel Marketing

Despite online business growth, in-store sales still dominate the retail market. Multichannel shoppers may not be spending all of their money online, but evidence shows that in general they do spend more than regular shoppers. Experts assume this is due to the greater access to discounts and wider product ranges often found in stores. That means if retailers don’t have a strong online presence, they could go unnoticed by key consumers.

Last month, Gap Inc. unveiled plans to completely embrace an omnichannel marketing system. The decision has given them a competitive edge against their peers, and a chance to dominate the world of omnichannel retailing.

At Gap’s annual investor meeting in San Francisco, company chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy said, “As the retail landscape evolves, we continue to deliver on our omni-channel roadmap and focus on owning the shopping experience of the future.”

The retailer’s vision for the future is a seamless shopping experience involving services like ‘reserve-in-store’ where consumers can put up to five items on hold at a Gap store of their choice. This feature already exists in select locations and is expected to be available at every Gap store by the end of the second quarter. ‘Reserve-in-store’ is appealing because it respects the personal side of shopping while offering the convenience of online browsing.

Another prime example of Gap’s push to join the digital and physical world is their ‘ship-from-store’ service, launched in 2012, which allows customers to buy and ship items directly from store locations. Gap also plans to test self-service kiosks this year, and hopes to simultaneously improve its personalization and loyalty programs.

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Gap’s intentions to achieve long-term profitable growth across all brands (Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta and Intermix) are made with omnichannel retailing at the forefront of its five-year plan.

Despite the fact that most retailers recognize the importance of omnichannel marketing, less than one fifth currently practice it. This is likely due to a lack of urgency or funds to make the necessary changes. Retailer hesitation has left omnichannel retailing somewhat underused until now. And today’s constantly shopping consumers are the reason the apparel industry is increasingly turning to omnichannel marketing. The 13 primary pieces of the omnichannel puzzle include everything from digital marketing to inventory visibility and an accessible customer call center. The most important element for consumers is a consistent experience across all channels. Consumers want to have the same experience online as they do on their phone and in the store.