The retail market has been changed forever by the combination of mobile technology and millennials growth in the market. The retail market now supports shopping and purchasing across virtual and physical markets along time time zones and geographic locations to create what I have started calling a retail omni market. This retail omni market supports shopping in a way that was not envisioned prior to the expansion of mobile technologies and the growth of millennials in the market. The changes in shopping and purchasing capabilities have been accepted by consumers and have become a de facto standard in the retail market. All consumers expect these capabilities as a matter of course and the technology and social network sites support and encourage consumers to create these capabilities in a manner that can be built and rebuilt to support their needs at the time.
Omni market shopping is an opportunistic practice that can be exposed and activated at any time and any place by the consumer based on the consumers’ needs or wants at the time. The technology has allowed consumers to create a virtual shopping mall that can be configured based on the consumer needs at the time of shopping. This is both a retailer’s paradise and nightmare at the same time because of the flexibility exercised by the consumer that is not limited by a retailer’s capabilities. If a particular retailer cannot meet the consumer demands at the moment in time that the consumer is shopping the consumer will simply move to another retailer. The positive aspect of the market though is that consumers will always come back again to give the retailer another opportunity on their next shopping exploration.
Retailers have focused on the operational side of this market and built out channel purchasing capabilities and have not focused very much at all on the social aspect of shopping. This is a critical failing of the retailers and they are now struggling to catch up. The retailers though seem to regularly fall into the same blind spot, which is the open and collaborative aspect of the consumer shopping and purchasing practices in the omni market. Retailers such as Wal Mart have focused on the operational side of the retail market, still viewing the omni channel aspect to provide consumers capabilities to purchase in one channel and pick up from another channel. This is all well and good but it is also the accepted baseline now and consumers have moved on to the shopping aspect and this requires the omni market view point.
Retailers must engage directly with consumers to support their shopping and encourage their return again and again. In the brick and mortar retail environment consumers did not always purchase on their outings, however the more they returned to the store the higher the likelihood a purchase would result. The retail omni market requires this same viewpoint for consumer engagement. The omni market is more difficult however because the retailer must continuously focus on the consumer relationship and engagement.
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?