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Foot Locker's CEO Describes What Omnichannel Is Really All About

Ken Hicks, Foot Locker chairman and CEO, took the reins of the retailer in 2007 as the United States was facing down its worst recession in decades. Under his leadership, the footwear and sports apparel company has managed to deliver 17 consecutive quarters of comparable store sales growth and its best-ever financial results for the 2013 fiscal year. Here, he speaks about the meaning of omnichannel.

Hicks closed under-performing stores, refocused on shoes and created banners that appeal to finicky younger shoppers. Foot Locker operates 10 banners and has managed to create cross-channel synergies that are the envy of smaller, less complex retail organizations. Everyone in retail is talking about omnichannel, but it means different things to different companies. What does omnichannel mean to him?
“The connection with the customer that we have, be it true digital or physical brick-and-mortar, is very high. Omnichannel means one channel. The customer looks at it as one voice and one mindset from that organization. You have to talk and communicate and merchandise as if it is coming from one place.

“Now, there are some very successful retailers, but their online [operation] and stores are two completely different organizations, and they don't necessarily speak with one voice. Our goal is to have one merchandising strategy. That may mean we have different merchandise—for example, we'll have more sizes, colors and assortment online than in the store—but the messaging is the same.”

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