The large regional and national omni channel retailers are at a crossroad where they must decide how to create a customer centric shopping experience that crosses channels.  For almost 20 years the purchasing experience in the retail industry has progressed to allow the consumer to purchase from any place at any time.  This progression and the changes it has driven into the retail experience have been dramatic to say the least considering the rise of Amazon and the consumer complete acceptance of eCommerce.  The one area that I would argue has not progressed as a result of retailer focus is the shopping experience. The shopping experience has also changed dramatically, however this change has been driven by the consumer and Amazon and not the large omni channel retailers

 

The retailer has focused for the most part on the purchasing experience and not on the shopping experience while the consumer has been focused on the shopping experience.  This can be seen by the use of third party apps on the smartphone that provide hints and direction for sales and special offers to the consumer based on their location.  This can also be seen by the proliferation of product usage and hacks on Pinterest and Instagram showing how to use the products in new ways and new combinations.  These new uses for social media tools have been embraced by the millenials and baby boomers alike to share concepts and thoughts that would have been shared 25 years ago in the store by a sales clerk or in the backyard at a barbeque.  Today however, most sales clerks focus on ringing up the sale the the backyard barbeque experience is declining due to the rise of other activities.  This will continue to decline as future generations incorporate social technology into their activities at a greater pace.

 

Let me take a moment to define my perspective of shopping - it is the social interaction between one-to-many friends to learn about products, obtain feedback from these friends and obtain suggestiosn where to purchase products.  You can see that from my perspective eCommerce retailers, for the most part of course, have simply scratched the surface of shopping.  Its great that retailers provide online sizing and allow the consumer to virtually try on clothes for instance, that is not shopping though!  The retailers must support a community that allows the consumers to share with others in the community to develop the true shopping experience.  Retailers cannot provide the shopping experience, they can only provide the tools that allow the consumer to develop their own shopping experience that meets their definition and needs.

 

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?