Omni channel shopping and purchasing is not a cookie cutter approach but concepts and processes that allow the retailer to mix capabilities and tools to meet the needs of their consumers and products.  For example, the apparel customer and their shopping and purchasing habits are much different than the home improvement customer.  This is true even when the same person is shopping for apparel or they are shopping for home improvement.  I see articles and webinars all the time that highlight one method of shopping or another as the method to improve consumer engagement and increase sales and the thing that I do not see is discussions on the need to evaluate the business, the customers and the shopping and purchasing desires of their customers.

 

As an example, the purchase online and pickup in the store model works great for the home improvement market.  However, I really don’t think this is a driving factor in the apparel market, I see shopping in the store and then purchasing via mobile, or simply shopping online and delivering to the customer’s home to be the most popular model.  This does not mean that what works in home improvement will not work in home improvement, it simply means that you must understand the customer desires and practices so that you can implement the model that is the most appropriate for your product and customer.

 

The next question then is - How can I determine my customer needs and desires for shopping and purchasing?  This can be a tough question because the easy response is you must talk to the customer and then measure response and the activities of the shopping and purchasing activities and practices of the customer.  This can be done through collaborative actions and practices with consumers over the online channel.  The consumer relationship must be nurtured and encouraged online with customer relationship programs that encourage the customer to register to receive perks and also provide feedback directly to the retailer.  Outside of the sales achieved online, the single greatest return to the retailer is the information that can be collected from the customer’s online activities in shopping and purchasing.

 

These practices and suggestions for collection of customer shopping information will allow the retailer to implement a practice of evaluation and selection prior to making any blanket decision and not just implementing the omni channel ‘flavor of the week’.  The value and return from the omni channel shopping and purchasing can be leveraged best by understanding the demands of the customer and then implementing those capabilities across all channels into a cohesive shopping and purchasing experience.

 

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?