As I have previously mentioned, the consumers’ purchasing decision is based on the same information such as cost, style, fit and quality without regard of how that information was collected.  The method in which the consumers collect this decision making information has been changing based on the consumers’ method of collection.  The consumers’ method of collecting this information is being driven by both the consumers’ time and availability to collect, of shop, for the information and the technology the consumer employs.  You will notice that no where in this algorithm of shopping does the retailers’ definitions of market channels come into play.  The consumer is shopping to purchase the product and using any means available to perform the shopping.

Again, as I have previously discussed retailers seem to have overlooked this aspect of the consumer shopping experience and more importantly consumer shopping objectives.  In order to continue to be successful the retailer must stop looking at the consumer market and practices from their own perspective and start looking at it from the shopping and purchase perspective of the consumer.  The retailers must evaluate their own shopping experience to identify hurdles and difficulties the consumer may encounter in completing their purchase in order to eliminate the difficulties.  This will be difficult because the current retail paradigm has been entrenched for many years.

This shift in practices is essentially about control of the shopping experience.  I see the consumer as flexing their abilities to gain control of their own shopping experience and utilize a shopping method that works for their own needs and requirements.  You can see where this is in conflict with the retailers paradigm where the retailer controls the shopping experience.  Currently the retailer is in control of the experience from the products that are offered for purchase to the store hours the purchases can be made, to the location of the store, to the ease of making the purchase.  The eCommerce experience is only slightly better were the shopping and purchase hours are not limited, but the consumer in many ways is limited by the delivery methods and the exchange capabilities have a huge impact on the consumers’ shopping experience.

The consumer is currently in conflict with the retailer over the control of their shopping experience and the retailer is combating this wrestling of control by defining specific market channels for the purchase.  There are definitely some retailers that understand the consumer shopping methods are changing and these retailers are forming the future landscape of shopping based on the consumer desires where a channel is unimportant and the purchase is the focus.  These leaders will drive the direction and along the way force the retail market to shift the paradigm of control of the experience from the retailer to the consumer. 

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?