As marketers, we constantly talk about the online and offline worlds, and how important it is to tie them together. But there’s something we don’t talk about enough: Not many brands are actually doing it.

At the recent Fashion Digital LA panel “Having it All: Online and Offline Collide”, we heard from some of the biggest names in retail. Hilda Fontana of TOMS shoes, Alex Golshan of BCBGMAXAZRIA, Nathan Lir of PacSun, Tricia Hoke of The Cotery and Frances Harder of Fashion Business all joined the conversation on a topic that simultaneously excites and plagues the world of brick and click.

Here are the 3 marketing trends we picked up from the conversation, and the monster of a challenge all of them are having a hard time beating.

3 Trends

• The value of the in-store, person-to-person experience is still crucial. Yes, we know that foot traffic in stores is generally down, and that ecommerce is growing more and more each year. However, in-store shopping is still king when it comes to sales. People crave the experience and social aspect of in-store shopping and love interacting with products. It’s also how brands can make a person-to-person connection with their customers and strengthen trust. The stronger the in-store experience, the stronger the online experience will be.

• With the innovation in digital ecommerce, we NEED to innovate the retail store experience. All the panelists agreed that while in-store is still important, retailers need to do better. BCBG is thinking about implementing new apps for every sales associate to help supplement the shopping experience. If they don’t have a color or size in stock, all the associates needs to do is order it via app. That way, no one leaves empty handed or dissatisfied. We’re also seeing more brands reinvent their storefront, the virtual fitting room by Nordstrom is a great example, and it’s a trend they think will continue to permeate the retail world.

• Technology is at the forefront of success…period. Today, there is no marketing without technology. The right technologies are central to success for every retail brand, whether purely ecommerce, brick and mortar or brick and click. With that, the vendor evaluation process for any established or emerging player should be rigorous. You should meet with innovators. You should meet with the companies solving real challenges — not just the safe choice. To win in the market, being on the cutting edge of marketing tech isn’t an option, it’s a requirement.

The Big Challenge: Achieving True Omnichannel

The biggest challenge was a consensus among the panelists. Connecting the offline and online worlds is a struggle they’ve just begun to tackle. TOMS specifically cited that being able to duplicate their online experience is problematic–for their online store, they have a clear 360-degree view of their users. They lose this view for customers with the in-store experience. All of these brands, to some degree, feel blind when it comes to in-store shoppers. For them, it’s not even about having the “best” or “most complete” data sets. They want to make the customer experience as best as they can wherever their customers shop and engage.

You don’t hear every day that the best and brightest marketers feel like they have only scratched the surface with omnichannel, but it’s the truth.

As Golshan of BCBG proclaimed, “Omnichannel is a journey, not a project.”

Kristine Lowery, Content Marketing Manager at Sailthru