Omni channel retail continues to present a great deal of promise even though this year, in my opinion, was a disappointment from the delivery perspective.  I am starting to see that maybe the greatest promise of omni channel retailing is to eliminate the channel discussion all together. I am starting to reconsider the meaning of the phrase shop anywhere, anytime and anyplace from the retail perspective and see that we may be on the brink of a great change in the shopping habits and methods.  For this perspective we should take into account the imagination and the ingenuity of the young in their use of technology for shopping.

I see as one game changing concept the Amazon Prime subscription that provide free two day shipping on their products.  Others recognize the potential of this service also because they are beginning to follow suite.  The most recent generation (what do we call it now?) we drive the acceptance through early adoption and usage.  I see this type of service as the beginning of a potential realignment of shopping habits.  The cyber capabilities and services have been driving the retail market for quite some time and as the convenience grows and the pervasive availability of tools such as smartphones and tablets and high speed access to the Internet grows the cyber shopping may become the norm for many of your customers’ shopping needs. 

Let me return to the impact of the Amazon Prime type subscription service because I feel this is one of the most important factors in shopping and the omni channel experience.  This type of service meets two objectives of the retailer;

  1. It gives the consumer a reason and an incentive to return and shop on a regular basis, repeat customers are obviously the most valuable.
  2. It encourages the customer to utilize the retailer like Amazon as their prime shopping channel because they can count on the simplicity of the purchase.

The one-click shopping is another feature that simplifies the shopping experience.  This is especially important when you think about how much time you spend waiting in the register line at a brick and mortar outlet on a busy shopping day like Black Friday.

While I did not see a great deal of improvements in from the omni channel perspective in my shopping over the Gray Thursday and Black Friday period I did come to the realization that online shopping has impacted and improved my shopping experience.  There are always things that you want to see and touch before you purchase however now you should not be limited to one channel or the other.  The omni channel may just change our shopping habits to allow us to focus our personal shopping on the things we want to touch or try on and then use the online channel for purchase and delivery.  We’re certainly a long way off from this however I see shopping moving more in that direction each year.

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?