Multi-Channel Retailing Examples: Elite Brands Driving Experiential Commerce

Multi-Channel Retailing Examples: Elite Brands Driving Experiential Commerce
  • Legacy CPG biz Lay’s debuted a charity D2C campaign where customers could personalize bags of chips with their faces and a custom message
  • Magnolia Market teamed with Shopify Plus to use augmented reality and bring its unforgettable real-world shopping experience online
  • Jordan Brand partnered with Snapchat to launch its latest sneakers through AR codes that triggered an exclusive in-app buying experience 

In multi-channel ecommerce, it is no longer enough to simply be online. Not for high-growth startups. Nor for high-volume legacy brands.

As commerce evolves, creating buying experiences that are memorable before, during, and after purchase are musts.

Creativity and the execution of a unique vision are often the best ways to truly engage a customer base overwhelmed by options.

Here are three elite consumer brands pulling in billions in annual sales, their inventive multi-channel retailing examples, and the proof of how capturing a shopping audience with an unforgettable experience really works.

Are you selling everywhere your customers buy?

Keep reading to discover how the best brands use ecommerce to innovate their multi-channel strategy. But if you’d like an executive guide, download The Enterprise Guide to Multi-Channel Ecommerce.

Inside, you’ll get one-pagers detailing …

  • Comprehensive data on the opportunities and threats
  • Merchant spotlights for insights on top channels
  • Checklist for selecting the right multi-channel platform

Access the guide today

Frito Lay’s: Direct-to-Consumer

Not all multi-channel retailing innovation is necessarily for profit.

In 2018, Lay’s needed a new way to reach a charitable audience, which the chip maker hoped to engage for help with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgical care for children around the world affected by cleft conditions.

The goal was to raise both awareness and one-million dollars. But in a busy landscape of pleas for help, how to stand out?

Smile with Lay’s was born, a campaign that aimed to engage shoppers with an innovative way to customize the multi-channel experience.

First, there was the pop-up.

In New York City, amid the bustle of Times Square, Lay’s opened a funhouse complete with lifesize Mr. Potato Head and celebrity ambassador Jordin Sparks to lay the groundwork for the promotion.

Then, for nearly two months in stores, specially-designed bags of Lay’s were made available; a portion of proceeds from each sent toward Operation Smile.

Next came the ingenious multi-channel example.

Lay’s partnered with Shopify Plus to roll out a special ecommerce storefront that allowed shoppers to customize their own bags of chips. They could put their own faces on the front …

Lay's uses customization to engage a consumer audience willing to spend more on products to have them their way

And then a special, personalized message on the back …

Boosted by the #SmileWithLays hashtag, the campaign exploded, no matter that the chips came with a much higher price point ($10.99).

It was proof that consumers are often willing to pay a little extra – not only for a compelling, personal ecommerce experience, but one that feels good in the end.

The results?

One million dollars for charity and a priceless direct-to-consumer connection.

Lay's raised one million dollars through their multi-channel retailing example

Magnolia Market: Offline-to-Online

When you operate one of the most iconic retail destinations in the U.S., moving that shopping experience online is no small feat.

This was the case of Magnolia Market, which opened its famous Silos complex in 2015 – a sweeping retail site in Waco that receives more tourist visits in Texas each year than even the Alamo.

Magnolia Market at the Silos is a retail icon, attracting more visitors in the state of Texas each year than even the Alamo

But for the retail arm of Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” real-world commerce was not where the buck stopped.

It longed to sell online, but how to truly replicate the experience of stepping into the Silos in Waco, where you can hold Magnolia Market’s unique products right there in your hands?

The answer was augmented reality. The home and lifestyle brand worked tirelessly with Shopify’s AR team to render its products in stunning 3D, users of Magnolia Market’s app able to virtually place items inside their homes as if they were truly there before them.

Forget that it was a killer app, an extension of this carefully considered brand, and a piece of technology that many of its competitors in the space might kill to have.

AR allowed the feeling of shopping with Magnolia Market to translate into ecommerce, which was a task this team did not take lightly.

“It’s so important for us that, whether you’re physically here in Waco or visiting us online, we’re able to capture the finer details of the overall experience to really reflect the true spirit of Magnolia,” says Stone Crandall, Magnolia Market’s digital experience director.

“Across the board, we want to make sure that we do express those finer details of the in-store experience online. And so augmented reality, obviously as it pertains to Shopify, really makes that possible.”

Jordan Brand: Social Commerce

In many ways, the Jordan Brand has been built on experience – the thrill of watching basketball’s signature star, the ideal that you, too, can push outwardly toward your own kind of greatness.

Fifteen years after Michael Jordan last stepped on an NBA floor, his Jordan Brand has never been more relevant. Today, the brand continues to flourish because of innovation.

The company’s latest commerce creation dropped at All-Star Weekend, 2018. As part of the iconic Air Jordan III’s 30th anniversary, Jordan Brand unveiled a new sneaker, the Air Jordan III Tinker. All well and good.

But it did so through a partnership with Snap and Shopify Plus foretells the future of social shopping.

At a real-life location in Los Angeles, Snapcodes were displayed that shoppers could scan with their Snapchat cameras.

Then, the magic: the codes would unlock an in-app commerce experience, powered by Shopify, that allowed the brand’s latest sneakers – which would not be released in stores for another month – to be purchased through Snapchat itself.

Just Snap and ... voila! A new pair of exclusive Air Jordan sneakers, at your doorstep the very same day

Just Snap and … voila! A new pair of exclusive Air Jordan sneakers, at your doorstep the very same day

The drop was a hit – and that’s even before you consider the sneakers arrived almost instantly, delivered the same day through local fulfillment centers operated by Darkstore. And, of course, purchasing the shoes also unlocked an exclusive Snapchat filter for buyers to boast about their new kicks.

It took … new vision to pull off.

It took … a legacy brand willing to innovate.

It took … only 23 minutes for the Air Jordan III Tinker to sell out completely.

Fail to Innovate At Your Own Peril

Whether your brand has been around since 1918 or 2018, chances are it needs to be online, and it needs to make lasting impact to maintain a returning customer base.

Innovation is no longer only for the backend, for functional tech that makes the buying experience easy. Ecommerce needs to pop. It needs to reach right off the screen and grab your audience.

If companies like Lay’s, Magnolia Market, and Jordan Brand – elite enterprise names that pull in billions in sales each year – will not rest on its laurels, what will be in store for those brands that do?

About the Author

Jason Buckland is a content marketer at Shopify Plus. His feature writing has appeared in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Playboy, Time, the Toronto Star and elsewhere.