Mindy Grossman of HSN Inc. recently spoke about the concept of ‘boundaryless retail.’ What is boundaryless retail and why should marketers pay attention? With the concept of boundaryless retail, HSN is creating a narrative that extends beyond commerce. Boundaryless retail places the point of sale with the customer – allowing them to go through their typical day with retailers meeting the customer where, when and how they want to engage.
Succumbing to my own curiosity on the topic, I poked around a few of HSN’s web and mobile channels today to get a sense of their social strategy. I found myself more and more enthralled when I came across their Pinterest site. One commonality I found as I was looking at the various sites pinned to their board was that that these pins don’t contain links to a credit card form. It may feel counter intuitive for a retailer to link to sites that don’t produce an immediate return, but this is actually a really smart move.
I’ll order a pair of jeans in a heartbeat, but I’m really hesitant about buying a taco with my phone. Well…okay, I’ll order a taco on my phone but I wouldn’t normally consider HSN as the place to do it. And to be clear, HSN isn’t selling tacos on Pinterest. What they are doing, however, is promoting fun and healthy ways to make dinner for your family. This is more than retail. This is the key differentiator between omni-channel marketing and boundaryless retail. While omni-channel marketing enables a consumer to engage with a brand from any number of devices, boundaryless retail creates a truly seamless and immersive customer experience and a shared culture around positive lifestyle choices.
Going back to Mindy’s message, “it is no longer enough to attract customers only to your store or digital platform, [successful retailers] will be measured on their ability to engage customers wherever they are.” Simply stated, at some level we are all consumers and we’re naturally experts in the way we like to buy. Moreover, we as consumers are vastly more complex than our order history. Each of us has our own personal narrative – our own worries and aspirations – that we don’t share in the comments box. HSN understands this, and they’re starting to employ cognitive technologies to help redefine commerce in the digital era. Cognitive technology takes all of the big data from social media feeds and aggregates it to create a holistic profile of my concerns and my needs as the customer. It paints a better picture of me and how I want to engage with a retailer.
If you want to learn more about how HSN is helping create a frictionless retail experience with cognitive technologies, please watch their recent video: