It is very difficult to declare a winner, or winners, in my omni channel shopping experiences this year because I have not really seen what I call true omni channel shopping capabilities. I define omni channel shopping capabilities very simply, the ability to shop any where, any time by any device or means. As usual when defining something the definition itself leaves a lot open for interpretation and my definition of omni channel shopping is no different. In addition there is one addition that I think should be included in the definition - the omni channel shopping capability builds a collaborative relationship between the customer, retailer, manufacturer and even the delivery of the product or service.
One thing you will notice is that I did not mention anything about the physical shopping outlet, whether it is brick and mortar store or online. This omission is on purpose because I think that it clouds the issue and diverts attention from the key objective and that is the sale. Quite frankly I have been disappointed this year with the lack of improvements from the brick and mortar retailers because in my opinion they have not done anything to blur the shopping line between outlets. In fact I think this year was somewhat of a step back; while retailers may be offering more opportunities through the online outlet, I don’t see that they have done anything to support my definition above.
This year I think the winners in the omni channel shopping experience is Amazon and potentially Wayfair.com. I think that both of these companies have pushed the shopping experience envelop in providing high quality products in a manner that is easy to shop and purchase. You will notice that neither one of these companies have a brick and mortar outlet, however, as I stated earlier I left this out of my definition on purpose.
I would give a high rating to Macy’s for a retailer with a brick and mortar basis because Macy’s is one of the few retailers that is starting to blend the online with the store experience. I think Macy’s does a great job coordinating their sales offerings and allowing customers to take advantage of sales both online and in the store for the same product. I also like the way they provide options to use coupons either online or in the store from your smartphone. The one thing that Macy’s is missing is a customer desk to support calling or ordering online from the store.
I would give a high rating to Best Buy this year for their push to the online channel of offerings and services. Even this though is limited because Best Buy does not truly offer the purchase in the store from the online channel. Even Best Buy focuses on the in store sale or the online sale and does not blend or encourage the cross over. I have mentioned previously that in order for retailers to be truly successful omni channel retailers they must embrace the window shopping practice of their customers to see the product in person and then place the order online.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
What types of cross channel services and offerings would you like to see to enhance your shopping experience? Retailers are focused on maintaining sales volumes through reductions in pricing rather than expansion of sales, or even maintaining sales through creative utilization of eCommerce services. Did you shop over the Gray Thursday / Black Friday period? What was your experience in stores and malls?