Boston and much of the nation’s East Coast might have been buried under piles of snow during the winter of 2015, but the retail industry itself did not get buried. How can that be, considering roads were impassable for days in many areas, freezing temperatures were ideal for snowman survival and people were just plain miserable?
Enter omni-channel, an emerging technology that seeks to unify all aspects of the buying experience so anyone, ranging from the individual consumer to multi-national corporations, can buy what they want, when they want, weather and location be dammed.
According to Applied Predictive Technologies, even with winter storm Juno paralyzing the east coast for much of January, sales were largely positive at both retailers and restaurants. For example, in-store sales for January 2015 were 2.8 percent higher than those from January 2014 while restaurants reported strong same-store sales, up 7.4 percent this past January over January 2014.
Despite these promising numbers, retailers must adjust to the reality that consumers want what they want, and they want it now. In order to meet customer’s demands for the timely receipt of goods, multichannel retailers are expanding the ways consumers can purchase what they want. For example, using omni-channel technology, a customer can search and find a product online using their laptop or PC, but wait, if they wish, to finalize the purchase from their mobile device. If they wish, the consumer can request the item be prepared for store pick-up following the online purchase rather than having the merchandise delivered, thereby speeding up the completion of the entire transaction process.
This is a guest post by Scott Koegler
It seems we’ve been talking about omnichannel selling for a long time now. Maybe it’s only been the last 5 years or so that the topic has risen to the level of certified buzzword, but for the majority of consumers who shop online, it’s been a very long 5 years… and even at that, has yet to deliver on their expectations.
Forrester’s study for Accenture and hybris looks at the gap between what retail customers want or expect from their shopping experiences, and what retailers are currently delivering. To say that they’ve identified a gap would be an understatement – and neither the customers nor the retailers can really be blamed.
Consumers don’t see the disjointed technology behind the retailer, and they don’t care that it exists. The retail consumer expects to find the same products in the store, in a printed catalog, and online. They see no line between the different delivery channels. A common expectation is that they can place an order online and pick the item up at the store. In fact, the report says that a full 50% of consumers expect this kind of capability from their retailers. And that follows from their other expectation held by a full 71% that they should be able to view all in-store inventory online. With these kinds of expectations it’s no wonder customers are disappointed by their multichannel shopping expectations – even though the word ‘multichannel’ is nowhere to be found in their vocabulary.
What do retail shoppers want? Aside from price, they want FAST delivery. Our desire for instant gratification is well documented. And when all shopping was the in-store kind, retailers played on that by packing the checkout lines with impulse buys. So that we consumers were able to go to the store, pick up what we wanted and walk out with it – plus a few more goodies.