Omni channel retailers must begin to integrate mobile and wireless technology capabilities into their retail stores to fully engage consumers across the spectrum of interactive platforms. What I mean by this is that retailers must open then in-store networks to consumers to encourage them to connect and interact while in the store to fully engage the virtual shopping experience. All smart phones whether Android or Apple come with similar features and functionality and consumers continuously use their smartphones to engage and extend their experience. Retailers are missing out on a significant opportunity if they do not engage the consumer from the retailer's network and web site.
This virtual outlet provides the consumer with an ‘endless aisles’ feature that will encourage them to remain in the store for their shopping needs and they can utilize the eCommerce purchasing channel for items not available in the store. The in store wireless engagement also allows the retailer to engage in location based sales to alert the consumer of special offers based on their location in the store. Consumers can engage in a virtual shopping spree with their friends and family that allows consumers to engage in the virtual shopping experience. This is the key to meeting consumer demands, allowing consumer contact and shopping from any place and any time.
Consumers are already leaps and bounds ahead of retailers in this aspect and there are really very few multi channel retailers that are beginning to experiment with virtual shopping. Kohls is one of the few that I have come across from the large national retail chains that is actively working on engaging consumers in their stores through their web site. I do not believe that retailers will success in the future unless they engage with consumers collaboratively in the virtual realm to support the consumer changing lifestyles. This is difficult for the larger retailers because it is directly at odds with their generally accepted practices and concepts for shopping and purchasing.
Consumers have the tools now available in their hands with smartphones and wireless network access to create their own shopping and purchasing experience. Millennials especially are demanding changes in their relationships with retailers to support their demands and from a technology perspective they will be driving the changes. Millennials have overtaken the baby boomers in numbers and their impact on the consumer market has been growing for a while now. The millennials bring to the market a focus on collaboration and technology that is changing the retail market and retailers must, in turn, change their practices to meet these changing demands. Consumers have grown comfortable with purhcasing electronically and do not necessarily require touching products prior to purchase. Consumers changing lifestyles also allow less time for shopping in physical stores. These two trends combine mean dramatic changes for retailers and consumer collaboration is the only practice that will allow retailers to maintain their success.
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?