I was shopping in at Verizon Wireless in the last week and experienced a very positive example of the potential for omni channel shopping that was really quite impressive.  There are many retailers right now that are utilizing multiple channels for marketing and sales that while they may be utilizing multiple channels, they are not supporting truly omni channel shopping and marketing.  I have been saying this for a while now in my discussions because it is a truly important factor in the omni channel discussion; omni channel shopping is not just utilizing multiple channels, omni channel shopping is actually linking the channels, and supply chain across multiple channels to create a truly seamless and single experience to the consumer.

The results of the omni channel shopping implementation can be dramatic to the consumer; both positive and negative.  Execution is critical in fostering the omni channel experience and this is why Retailers must be focus on the execution and developing the seamless shopping experience.  I think that it may be better to not enter into a channel until you have validated and proven you ability to execute in that channel.  In this case I strongly believe in the old adage that you can only make a first impression once.  The consumer experience is very much influenced by that first impression and must be nurtured to ensure a positive experience.  If you as a retailer start to develop your capabilities in omni channel shopping simple to reduce costs or because you are following the market you will have a very high likelihood of failure. 

Consumers as a group have dramatically increased their sophistication and utilization of technology in their shopping habits.  The age of the Internet is not just a catchy phrase but a concept that describes embracing the technology in all areas of day to day life.  Because of the advanced technology available to consumers in the form of both hardware like smartphones and tablets combined with advanced software capabilities delivered by third party and Internet leaders consumers have come to expect a level of capability in their life which crosses over all aspects and especially shopping.  For this reason it is important for the retailer to flawlessly execute these capabilities to ensure the repeat business from consumers and also the word of mouth promotion of their capabilities to other consumers.

Another benefit of the age of the Internet is in the social capabilities and potential capabilities delivered through technology.  The interesting point here is that as the world and access expands through technology and the Internet, the social applications provided via the Internet are at the same time expanding the consumer interaction.  What this means is that everyone can provide immediate reviews and reaction which will influence their sphere of contacts.  This provides an electronic party line that can drive consumers to a retailer and just as easily and quickly drive consumers away from the retailer.  This is why execution is critical to the success of the retailer.

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?