ECommerce practices and capabilities can be utilized by omni channel retailers to identify and confirm trends and product strategies.  The successful omni channel retailers should utilize the eCommerce channel as a means to connect and collaboration with the consumer.  This channel provides a remarkable ability to connect to customers in ways that support and even help to guide and shape the changing consumer shopping habits.  If you are solely focused on the commercial sales aspect of the eCommerce channel you are missing out on opportunities to explore and support your customers desires.

I see the eCommerce channel as progressing through a series of revisions and capabilities that have been impacted and influenced by technology, just the same as the other retail channels.  These impacts and resulting revisions have been driven by the technical capabilities of the consumer.  The technical capabilities of the consumer have allowed them to change the manner in which they interact and spend their money with the retailers. 

The definition of the retail market channels has been introduced by the consumer retail industry as a means to segregate the purchase methods.  The definition of the market channel has not been evaluated or reviewed by the retail industry with the consumers they are serving.  The consumers, in fact, simply shop and purchase products, they do not take into account the industry defined channels.  To the consumer the purchase is the end result of shopping and shopping can be performed using multiple methods across devices.  The device, or the channel, do not influence the consumer purchasing decision.  The consumers’ purchasing decision is based on the same information without regard of how that information was collected.

Many retailers seem to have overlooked this aspect of the consumer shopping experience and more importantly consumer shopping objectives.  I do not think this is unusual because the average retailer, and especially the large multi channel retailers, have always viewed the consumer as accepting the offering of the retailer, whether it is the product or the method of purchase or even the method of payment.   You see the results of this viewpoint is displayed by the retailers fighting the consumer practice to electronically window shop.  These retailers do not understand yet that their shopping paradigm has already been changed by the consumer.  In this example the consumer in their viewpoint is simply shopping and using the technology available to support their shopping.

The interesting point in this discussion is that while the retailers may have originally believed that they were in control of the channel capabilities the reality of the consumer shopping process has and still is driven by the consumer utilization of the channel.  The retailers have been focused on the manner in which they define the process and they need to shift to focus on the manner in which the consumer shops.  The process to be supported is the consumer shopping process and not the retailer sales process.

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?