Omni-channel, the future-present of retail
There was a time when the retail sector found itself terribly threatened due to the boom of electronic commerce. Some would even speculate towards the death of the physical store. This radical idea was reinforced through the dramatic penetration of mobile devices which came hand-in-hand with the feared but powerful showrooming. But consumers, after having tried and exhausted their taste for novelty, chose the physical point of sale as their preferred sales channel. This, however, does not mean we are witnessing a cyclical tendency, but rather retailers are putting all their efforts towards improving the store experience. Notwithstanding, the threat of online selling remains and the data on the evolution of eCommerce, but especially mCommerce, represent a clear indicator.
Bricks or Clicks? Why do consumers prefer the physical to the online store?
Yes, in the midst of this digital era “bricks” to win over “clicks” but distances are decreasing and barriers between the offline and the online are beginning to blur. Our consumption habits have changed, giving way to a new and potent profile: the omni-channel shopper. But before embarking upon this topic let us look at the reasons positioning the physical store above the online one.
According to a study made by BI Intelligence, 60% of consumers that prefer the physical channel argue that being able to see, touch and try the product in situ enhances their shopping experience. This is the main factor challenging electronic commerce. Likewise, very close behind with a 53%, is speed or immediate availability, which amounts to the same, of the product in the brick and mortar store.
But these very obvious factors are not the only ones discovered in this study. For 33%, physically buying something gives them greater confidence in the product meeting their needs and 22% declares that returning merchandise is simpler. There is also the curious detail that 13% of respondents consider buying in stores to favor local retailers. And 13% love the atmosphere they encounter when shopping for these products.
However, growth data for eCommerce and especially for mCommerce continues to be surprising year after year. Competitive prices, avoiding lines or travelling or even not carrying purchased products are all greatly attractive. Therefore the physical channel does not entirely set aside an adoption of the latest technologies to attract, keep and create loyalty, but especially to improve a client’s experience.
Consumers have become more demanding forcing retailers to renovate and include digital media in their advertising space. Meaning, to go from a multi-channel to an omni-channel. Because currently what truly matters is reaching the customer wherever they may be. Thus strategies revolve around a new type of consumer: the omni-channel shopper.
Omni-channel & Retail, a marriage of convenience
The new technologies have turned our consumers into autonomous people and therefore, extremely demanding ones. But these have also played out in favor of retailers.
Now retailers have tools which allow them to collect quantitative and qualitative data (big data) from the consumers and thus apply this business intelligence. In addition, just as we saw in the previous article: 3 retail experiences to win your customer’s hearts, the new technologies also allow retailers to offer new and exciting in-Store purchase experiences.
Therefore, omni-channelness is the future-present of retail. Retailers stand before a new consumer, one whose mobile device has become their new personal shopping assistant when inside the store. We cannot forget that 71% of shoppers use their phones within the store to investigate: to compare prices, look for other consumer opinions or access other technical product information. Therefore, the mobile search may result in a physical sale instead of an online one. So we find ourselves before an omni-channel shopper.
So retailers find themselves having to integrate all sales channels, to fuse the best in online and offline, for the purpose of keeping and making clients loyal, optimizing their visit and improving their experience. We must not forget the supply chain which must be excellent so as to offer this quality service and the unique experience proposed by omni-channel.
During this last year retail companies have begun to equip their points of sale and their diverse devices and apps so with time this has positioned them within the omni-channel framework of retail. It is interesting to observe what our points of sale are slowly turning into.