Omni channel consumer practices are and are seeing the first results of these changes with the recent Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Green Monday events.  These changes are the result of the spread and the acceptance of the smartphone and the improvements and expansions of both network and wifi capabilities in stores and malls.  These improvements provide the consumers with the ability to expand their shopping and browsing practices through the smartphone.  The consumers have embraced their smartphones to shop other stores and prices while in a retail store and then complete the purchase and ship their purchase to their home or even the gift recipients. 

 

This is essentially an expansion of the retail showrooming concept that consumers have used for many larger significant purchases and retailers have be fighting.  It now seems that this practice has become a standard shopping practice and is even expanding with the expansion of free shipping memberships and promotions.  These changes in shopping habits have begun to change the retail shopping practices of consumers to take control of their shopping and improve the consumers’ bottom line by shopping for product physically and then confirming best price electronically.  Try as they might, retailers will not be able to stop the expansion of this concept and must try to get ahead of it now while there is still a chance to test responses with the consumers.

 

I do not think this shopping concept will change the fact that multi-channel retail consumers are more valuable to retailers, but I do think that consumers are starting to take an active role in how they use the retail channels.  Consumers are blurring the channels now to shop and it doesn’t matter in which channel they complete the purchase.  The purchase will be completed based on the price and the delivery requirements.  The delivery requirements seem to be taking a more important role in the purchase decision. What I mean by this is that the consumer takes into account whether they will need to ship their purchase out of town when determining the method of purchase so they can ship the purchase to the final destination using an online shipping promotion rather than paying for shipping themselves.

 

Retailers have invested heavily in the capabilities to purchase online and ship to a store and this new potential practice is taking a different direction especially during the holiday shopping season.  If there was one thing I would recommend retailers consider, it is concept of purchase in the store and provide free shipping to the consumers’ gift recipient.  This will not address the price shopping in stores that is increasing but it would eliminate one of the reasons for consumers to showroom in the store and purchase online.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?