As Technology Breaks Down Barriers, Retailers Like Frank & Oak Must Continue Omni-Channel Push

Technology is breaking down the barriers between online and offline sales and retailers will have to adapt.

That’s the message that Hicham Ratnani, the COO and co-founder of Montreal’s Frank & Oak plans to deliver when he speaks at the upcoming Dx3 conference in Toronto next month.

One of the big focuses of his talk, “How Star Companies are Redefining Ecommerce in Canada,” will be Frank & Oak’s omni-channel approach.

Now that people have easier and faster access to products and information about those products, Ratani says, “there’s no doubt that the customer has higher expectations.’”

For Frank & Oak, that means being on mobile, online and having a brick and mortar presence.

“The customer wants the complete experience,” Ratnani says. “We believe that omni-channel is the way to go.”

While he says that might not be the perfect approach for every retailer, even if its not, they still need to study and understand their customers in order to find out where and how those customers want to shop as well as how they want to interact with the brand.

Part of that might mean identifying a customer niche or narrowly-targeting a certain demographic. For Frank & Oak, there’s certainly a strong focus on a specific subset of younger men.

With an identified target market, Ratnani says it’s important to “cater to their values.” It’s a similar story when it comes to social media. Retailers need to “got to find a way to have [their] own voice,” he says.

While just what kind of presence is necessary “depends on who you sell to,” Ratnani says. But not being engaged just isn’t an option. “People absolutely need to have a presence,” he says.

But for Ratnani, technology is just one piece of the puzzle.

“Our view is that it’s important to be really, really, deeply integrated,” he says. “It’s not necessarily about fashion or technology. We believe that there’s … a perfect combination of technology, design and data.”

Part of that is things like Select, an automated styling program Frank & Oak launched earlier this month.

Ratani describes it as providing a “personalized experience.”

“Guys today are active, guys today are busy. Some guys want to pick everything themselves,” he says, “some guys want a bit of help.”

But while technology is enabling people to shop anywhere and everywhere it also means increased competition.
“Customer options are increasing,” Ratnani says and that means that in order to compete in the modern world, “everyone always needs to up their game.”