Designed to be an extension of each one of its 300+ locations, Wild Birds Unlimited’s omni-channel initiative takes the traditional online shopping experience to the next level.
In today’s digital-centric world, the retail industry is evolving at an unprecedented pace. From online shopping to mobile ordering, brands need to be able to adapt to the latest trends quickly and efficiently to ensure that they’re keeping up with the competition. However, for Wild Birds Unlimited, keeping up simply isn’t enough. Instead, the brand has introduced a new omni-channel initiative to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technological innovation and the latest in consumer shopping trends.
The omni-channel initiative bridges the gap between Wild Birds Unlimited’s brick and mortar stores and its online shopping experience. The brand has created its own digital retail center that takes its store shelves and puts them online in a way that is attractive to both consumers and franchisees.
“Retail is changing dramatically as customers expect to be able to shop when they want, where they want and how they want. That’s where our omni-channel initiative kicks in—in the true sense of the word, it’s all about exceeding those customer expectations,” said Bo Lowery, director of marketing support for Wild Birds Unlimited. “While Wild Birds Unlimited is primarily a brick and mortar retail concept, we’ve long had online ordering capability through a third-party platform. But now, we’re taking our e-commerce capabilities to the next level by taking ownership of our online store and gearing it towards customer expectations. The initiative is branded ‘MyWBU Store’ to drive home the fact that it’s an extension of the local store customers already shop. When ordering via MyWBU Store, orders are fulfilled by the same local staff customers already know and trust. ”
Years of research and development has led to Wild Birds Unlimited’s omni-channel initiative. It started with Jim Carpenter, the brand’s founder, president and CEO. He realized that Wild Birds Unlimited needed to enhance its online ordering system in order to maintain its position as a leading innovative force not just in the retail industry, but in the franchising industry as a whole. So, with the help of the brand’s internal team as well as a third-party development company, the new platform was created.
In addition to being a comprehensive and user-friendly online shopping site, MyWBU Store also works in conjunction with Wild Birds Unlimited’s loyalty program. The online shopping experience is also designed to be mobile friendly, ensuring that customers can purchase their favorite Wild Birds Unlimited products from any device. But what separates this initiative from all other traditional e-commerce platforms designed to streamline sales is its local connection. This isn’t a system that’s being introduced as one version system-wide—the initiative can be tailored to every one of the brand’s 300-plus locations and offer the local store prices that customers have come to expect.
“What keeps customers coming back to Wild Birds Unlimited time and time again is our attention to detail, which includes the one-on-one relationships that our store owners and their employees make with consumers. When one of our regular customers walks into their local store, people are going to know their name. We wanted to keep that personal connection and level of comfort alive with our omni-channel initiative, even as we open up the door to an enhanced online ordering experience,” said Lowery. “That’s why each individual store has what essentially serves as their own online shopping site. It’s designed to be an extension of our local stores so that our customers are dealing with that same staff and location, even when shopping from their laptops or cell phones.”
Right now, Wild Birds Unlimited is still in the testing phase of its omni-channel initiative. There are 13 stores that are fully on boarded right now, but the brand is aiming to open up the program to all of its stores by early 2018. Franchisees will be able to opt in if they’re interested in engaging omni-channel—it won’t be mandatory. However, given the benefits that come with the program, it’s expecting the majority of its franchisees to enroll.
“So far, we’re getting terrific responses from our owners who have engaged our new omni-channel initiative. They see the value in it and understand the importance of adding enhanced online shopping to our in-store services,” said Lowery. “We’re looking forward to getting this system up and running in our stores across the country. We’re confident that this will further strengthen our relationship with existing customers and has great potential for reaching new customers. All of this will ultimately help our franchisees succeed as local business owners.”