August 4, 2023

A Simple Way to Copy Nike’s Omnichannel Strategy

Elektra Pritchard

In the last year or so, emerging brands have undergone a big shift from DTC only towards an omnichannel strategy, giving customers a consistent, frictionless experience across all of a brands’ touchpoints. By aligning themselves with this particular strategy, brands are able to bridge that gap between digital and physical touchpoints, resulting in better customer experience. 

Why is Omnichannel important? 

In this fast-paced digital era, it is essential for brands to embrace an omnichannel approach to survive in a post-iOS world and meet the evolving needs of customers. Here are three reasons why it is important to make the transition in 2023:

  1. Customers’ behaviors and expectations
  2. Sustainable Growth
  3. Omnichannel customers being high value. 

First, being present across all channels is essential. This is because different shoppers are buying in different channels. Consumer research shows that shoppers usually start their journey on marketplaces like Amazon. Then move on to retailer pages, i.e. Macy’s and Walmart. And, finally, go to brand pages. 

The reasons for visiting these channels vary. Shoppers will find the lowest price in marketplaces like Amazon. On a retail site, a shopper can compare brands and additional services. Finally, shoppers can go to the website to learn the brand’s mission, values, and access additional perks and warranties.

Omnichannel expert, Melissa Minkow says, “Brands need to be like the Oscar-winning movie, “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.” By providing customers with an omnichannel experience, brands can cater to diverse customer preferences and create flexibility at every touchpoint.  

To explain the second reason above, we need to flash back ~10 years. At the time a new crop of consumer companies emerged, they skipped the traditional retail growth path. They were fueled by a combination of social ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and direct sales on the website. Think Warby Parker, Everlane, The Honest Company, Away, and Casper.  

That playbook fell apart with the iOS 14 privacy update which was aimed at protecting user privacy and severely hamstrung brands’ ability to target potential buyers. Apple devices are no longer passing cookie data to Facebook, and custom acquisition costs shot through the roof.   

Obvi founder, Ronak Shah, says, “Brands need retail more than ever, because it brings blended customer acquisition costs down.” 

Gone are the days of being a one-trick pony. As a result, brands are reverting back to traditional approaches and are in a mad rush to get into retail. 

Finally, the omnichannel customer is high value. Nike recently reported that customers buying in multiple channels are “at least twice” as valuable as purely online shoppers. Brands who understand that are pursuing traditional retail channels to survive and thrive. 

How to create an omnichannel customer 

Creating the omnichannel customer can be easy if brands adopt these three techniques:

  1. Giving your brand a presence in every channel.
  2. Making your customer aware of the array of channels.
  3. And, finally, reminding them of that presence often. 

This is easier said than done. Each channel has its own strategy, rules, and nuance. So brands should be thoughtful and deliberate about their growth paths. Check out the Omnichannel Marketer podcast to learn from brands breaking ground in new channels. 

Giving customers the feeling of visibility at every phase of their omnichannel journey is essential. It shouldn’t matter if they are in store or on an app. The expectation is that the interaction should be seamless, conveying a sense of attentiveness and care to the customer. 

Personalizing the customer experience and maintaining a cohesive identity are crucial components of an effective omnichannel strategy. By being present on every platform where customers are active, brands establish credibility and authenticity, which will drive customer loyalty.

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“Brands need retail more than ever, because it brings blended customer acquisition costs down.”

Real life example: Nike

Looking more closely at Nike, they have done an exceptional job in executing the omnichannel strategy in recent years. They have adapted to the modern customer and are being proactive about the technological future that is dawning. 

Nike’s journey with omnichannel has been an interesting and fairly unique one. Following their 2017 decision to cut wholesale ties with various stores and sellers as a way to focus on direct-to-consumer (DTC), they are now reversing the decision and reintroducing a broad range of products in several stores. They will be selling at retailers like Macy’s, Foot Locker, and DSW. 

Nike was able to see that this method was not as optimal or effective, so they have been transitioning to use both DTC and wholesale as a way to offer their customers several points of access. 

Daniel Heaf, Vice President of Nike Direct, commented on this decision, saying: “We’ve chosen both because it allows us to serve every single athlete with distinction and uniquely across the entire marketplace.”

I recently visited the Nike store in the Soho shopping district of New York City to see their omnichannel strategy in action.  

I observed QR codes all over the store.

  1. On products and packaging
  2. On signage
  3. At point of sale

The QR codes linked to the website, product pages, Nike Apps and social presence, i.e. Snapchat filters.

A few of the QR codes we found at the Nike store.

Nike is utilizing their…

  1. Website
  2. A variety of apps (i.e SNKRS)
  3. Collaborations with a number of wholesale partners and local sneaker stores to coordinate physical product drops
  4. Connection of loyalty programs across partner stores
  5. Neighborhood pick up hubs that send buyers a QR code once their order is ready
  6. Channel connectivity: ability to buy sneakers online and pick it up in a store (Nike or 3rd party)

Through all of these channels, Nike is meeting their customers everywhere and effectively deploying omnichannel strategy. And it’s working. At Nike, omnichannel shoppers are “at least twice” as valuable as purely online shoppers, according to Daniel Heaf from Nike.

How to crack the black box

Most brands don’t think about it, but retail and Amazon are a black box. People are shopping and buying there all day, every day. And brands have no clue who they are. And no way to engage. They are “dark channels.”

If you're not Nike and don’t have the budget to accommodate for this level of connection and investment, QR Code Experiences are a simple and effective way to create a touchpoint that begins in the physical and ends in the digital. 

A QR Code Experience is the end-to-end experience a user has when scanning a QR code. That means the interaction with the QR code AND the final destination. 

‍QR Code Experience is the end-to-end experience of scanning a QR Code.

‍In the context of consumer products in an omnichannel environment, we at Brij focus on the placement of a QR code on a physical product, packaging, insert, in-store display, or billboard. And creating a connection to the digital brand.

It’s a substantial crack in the black box. 

Once you get a retail or Amazon shopper to your QR code experience, you can:

  • Share educational education which not only drives net new engagement, but grows brand trust and affinity in channels where interaction and brand presence was previously limited. 
  • You can make special offers (rebates, discounts, exclusive content), which is an opportunity to collect email and SMS data and drive future sales
  • Send the shopper to your other digital properties (website, app, social, marketplaces) 

Furthermore, QR code experiences can capture zero party data from customers. With this data, brands  facilitate more intimate customer relationships, creating better experiences, which translate to advocacy and future buying opportunities. 

QR codes allow a brand to cross-pollinate retail and digital, both enhancing the buyer experience and driving business growth. 

Ready to go Omnichannel?

Using QR codes in dark channels, introduces a new medium for brand awareness and acquisition in an omnichannel world. QR Codes can facilitate a brand’s ability to connect with their customers in a way they could never do before - both physically and digitally.  

The ability to adopt the omnichannel strategy and adapt to the modern customer is imperative if brands want to survive in 2023. By making a cohesive experience across all channels, brands will be able to establish loyalty and create these omnichannel customers. And the easiest way to achieve this is through QR Code Experiences.

Brij is helping more and more trend-setting brands do this every day. If that sounds like something your brand wants to do, drop us a line any time. Even if it's just to talk about how to start with QR codes. Book a time here.

And it’s working. At Nike, omnichannel shoppers are “at least twice” as valuable as purely online shoppers, according to Daniel Heaf from Nike.

Want to learn more about Brij?