The omni channel purchase process is probably the critical link in the consumer relationship battle that is being fought by the large legacy retailers for the favor of consumer shopping and purchasing.  The convenience of true omni channel purchasing cannot be beat and this is also the most difficult aspect for the large legacy retailers to deliver.  Consumers now demand cohesive offers and support across the retail fulfillment channels to meet their needs at the time of the purchase, these are truly opportunistic shopping and purchasing activities that must be met at a moment’s notice in a manner that supports the consumer need at the time of decision.  This includes all of the input consumers receive from their mobile devices as they are shopping whether online or in a store.  The mobile input to shopping decisions is a continuous stream of comparisons and suggestions when the consumer allows location based communications.

 

I know that in my shopping and purchasing practices that I am drawn to the opportunity at the time I am shopping and based on input from all channels, in other words I am continuously reviewing cross-channel options for purchasing and utilizing the retail store as a showroom for my shopping and decision finalization.  Millennials are even more technically aware and plugged into the opportunities available through mobile and wireless technologies.  This is not however an age bias because seniors are also highly capable from a technology basis and even more drawn to the simplicity and opportunities to eliminate trips and lugging purchases available via the online channel. 

 

This is a cultural as well as a technology challenge for the large legacy retailers to overcome because traditionally these retailers have traditionally focused on the brick and mortar store channel to draw customers and the size of the chain to drive cost savings from their size to provide volume discounts that are then passed to consumers.  The technology challenge is the changes required to support the true omni channel requirements, beginning with the inventory challenge and finishing with the purchase.   The challenge really starts with the assignment of the sale to the channel and this first hurdle really slowed the large retailer acceptance and also ability to take advantage of the opportunities.

 

These retailers must look at the purchase supporting across channels and the shopping supports the purchase.  There will be some products that lend themselves to the physical shopping environment and some that lend themselves to the online shopping environment.  Retailers must embrace these differences and not limit the purchase to the channel where the shopping is executed.  This seems to be the continuous major challenge for large legacy retailers and this challenge seems to be related to the culture of the brick and mortar vs online shopping practices.  This is the change required to support a true omni channel purchase and when this is embraced by these retailers they will be able to then focus on the advantages that a large network of stores and warehouses present to supporting consumer demands.

 

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?