Retail Efforts to Enhance the Shopping Experience
By definition, “Omnichannel (also spelled omni-channel) is a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a brick and mortar store”. Vast efforts are at an all-time high to garner a shopper’s attention, loyalty, and get them to buy. At least that’s what it feels like. Sure, we all want convenience, an ability to compare products, to find the best prices, etc. all at our fingertips. And those that are tech-savvy may enjoy the omnichannel technology experience more than most.
More Questions than Answers
One observation about the omnichannel experience is the propensity for less and less person-to-person contact. If you have teenagers then you know the oft-used exclamation, “they can be in the same room with someone and text them rather than talk to them!” They may feel more connected with their peers using technology-driven devises than talking face-to-face. Are we inadvertently trying to replace face-to-face selling with technology?
This may be true as we observe people in public areas. People interact more with mobile devises and tablets than talking with one another. Rather than ask a sales person for information about a product, for example, we look it up on our phones with a barcode or QR code app. Verbal communication is becoming less important especially in retail as we rely more and more on technology to fulfill the way we buy the products we need and want.
A more looming question is, “will the continued thrust of omnichannel technology reduce the impact of brick & mortar stores with consumers”? Fortunately, we don’t think so. Why? Because shoppers still yearn to experience sensations. A well planned and executed store environment, that creates a sensational shopping experience, is the best physical connection a retailer will ever have with their customers. It is notable that online retail giants are now opening brick & mortar stores for just this reason.
Some Answers to Questions
Some retail experts have compared shopping with going on vacation. They point out that, as a nation, the US is the only advanced economy with no national vacation policy. So what does this have to do with experiencing sensations and shopping? An answer could be that we are after the vacation feeling in our shopping experience; to see new things, get excited about new products, have some ‘fun’ while we shop; then relax at the corner coffee shop while we’re at it. It only takes a moment to see how TV and print advertising glamorize fun, excitement, and being carefree. Just what a vacation vision is all about. And since we take the fewest amounts of vacation days of any nation, a case could be made that shopping in brick & mortar stores is a substitute.
A further explanation is that omnichannel exploits our culture of immediacy, our obsession with speed. Speed of product information, speed of cost comparisons, speed of sales transactions, speed of shipments, and the list goes on.
But the brick and mortar store is still the mainstream for shoppers; we just want our technology to follow us to the store. While technology helps with product information, product availability, and who may have the best price, consumers still enjoy going to the store. Nothing replaces touching the product, having a friendly sales person around to help, and putting your selected item into your shopping cart to take home. The product display is still required and impacts the shopping experience; hence the overwhelming need for store planners, visual merchandisers, and display fixture specialists.
Omni-channel technology is an added element to the shopping experience, not a substitute or a replacement of another element of the shopping experience. Rue the day that as shoppers, we cannot escape the binds of home and office and engage in a little mini-vacation at our favorite local store.
For more information about your source for displays and accessories, contact Midwest Retail Services today. Call 800-576-7577, use our convenient site link, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A custom display specialist will be available to help you! Our only goal will be your merchandising display solution.