This year I believe the consumer has reached a turning point with brick and mortar retail shopping due to the level of frustration generated and not just when shopping but the whole experience from driving to the shopping center, finding parking, and then the struggles in the store to find the right product.  This is not to say that the retail store is dead, it is just beginning to share the spotlight now with eCommerce online shopping and the opportunities for omni channel shopping that this brings to the consumer.  We are still in the early stages of the omni channel shopping and purchasing transformation and there are still many reasons for consumers to go to a brick and mortar store for some purchases.  These reasons are changing now though and these changes are steadily increasing in momentum to  change the brick and mortar requirements and experience.

 

Consumers are viewing their total shopping experience now which includes their experience in getting to the store, parking, finding the appropriate product in the store and then finding a clerk to wait in line and purchase the product.  Then after all of that fun, they must carry the product back to the car, navigate through parking lots and then roads to home.  This becomes in many cases a day trip to complete and I for one am not especially fond of the thought of these hurdles to shopping, especially when you can complete your shopping online, at least for most products, in a fraction of the time and the hassles!  There are still reasons to go to a brick and mortar store for specialized products for instance however these reasons are also continuously decreasing as the online shopping and purchasing opportunities increase.

 

The next frontier for omni channel retail is the realization of the consumer frustration with brick and mortar shopping and a concerted effort across all participants to change the physical retail marketplace into an entertainment experience.  Consumers are investing a great deal of time and effort in their physical shopping activities with a great deal of frustration and this encourages these consumers to forsake the physical shopping experience in greater numbers.  Retailers must collaborate together and along with real estate developers and entertainment venues to redefine the experience into one that delivers on positive experience and encourages consumers to return and spend time.

 

Brick and mortar retailers must take this consumer shift in shopping and purchasing as feedback on the brick and mortar experience and a reaction to the frustration with the physical shopping experience.  They must change their shopping and purchasing viewpoint to support a true omni channel marketplace by redefining their stores and then they must redefine the physical shopping experience by redefining the physical shopping centers.  This is not just a retailer issue any more it is also a real estate issue and an employment issue that must be addressed and resolved.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?