Retailers are investing time and resources into finding solutions that merge the online and offline shopping worlds. The growth of smartphone adoption — along with consumers’ propensity to use the devices to shop — is the catalyst behind this trend. According to a recent study from Tulip Retail, 80 percent of consumers expect sales associates to use mobile technology on the sales floor within the next two years to service them better.

Frank & Oak, a retailer of men’s apparel and goods, is apparently listening to consumers. The company implemented a tablet solution from Tulip Retail in its Toronto flagship store earlier this month. In this exclusive interview with Retail Online Integration, Ethan Song, CEO of Frank & Oak, and Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail, discuss how arming the store’s sales associates with a mobile solution is helping affirm Frank & Oak’s status as an emerging omnichannel brand.

Retail Online Integration: Why does Frank & Oak believe it’s important for its in-store style advisors to be equipped with mobile devices?
Ethan Song: We want to provide a more personalized and organic experience for our shoppers. With Tulip’s mobile solution, our style advisors are able to access a full customer profile and past purchase history, which helps them better serve shoppers. They can also refer to a complete product catalog, which gives them much more to offer shoppers than simply what’s on the shelf in-store, and close a sale using the same tablet.

ROI: What are some of the ways that Frank & Oak Style Advisors will be able to help in-store shoppers via their tablet devices?
Ali Asaria: Style advisors can access the complete Frank & Oak product catalog with detailed product information and inventory levels; access shopper profiles, including past purchases and available store credit; and leverage the checkout integration that can ring up a mix of in-store and online purchases.+

ROI: What was the reasoning behind Frank & Oak’s decision to open its own brick-and-mortar stores?
ES: Frank & Oak has always maintained the brand vision that we’re more than an e-commerce company. We want to connect with the creative generation, so online, mobile and in-store is all part of that strategy. With our brick-and-mortar stores, we’re able to create a more personal connection with our shoppers.

ROI: How do you see the blurring of lines between online and offline impacting retailers?
ES: Retailers will have to become savvier in how they set up their brick-and-mortar locations and online storefronts. As the lines become more and more blurred, retailers will need to make sure their strategies are truly omnichannel.

AA: I think this presents a huge opportunity for retailers to reset how they serve shoppers. Store associates will hold an even more important role in brick-and-mortar locations to bridge the gap between in-store and online. Furthermore, “omnichannel” will mean that a shopper’s path to purchase can start in-store, go online to a number of websites, and end up buying from a mobile device (or any permutation thereof). Retailers aren’t ready for that world, but will soon have to be to meet customer expectations.

ROI: Do you have any tips/advice for retailers that are trying to “digitize” their brick-and-mortar stores?
ES: Make sure you keep your brand story the same. It’s important to maintain that vibe across any strategy, whether it’s online, in-store or both.

AA: Don’t treat your brick-and-mortar strategy and digital strategy as separate entities. When digitizing your store, make sure you’re maintaining a cohesive omnichannel experience for shoppers.

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