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Integrating Online Shopping Experiences With Offline Retail

Monday, January 11th, 2010

As an online shopper, one thing I have become really accustomed to is consumer reviews and user-generated product ratings. Whether you’re looking to buy a new TV at Best Buy or order a book off Amazon, right there, at the point of purchase, you have the honest feedback from consumers who have already used the product. Thanks to online shopping, we no longer shop “alone”, we have the information and opinions from hundreds of our peers to help reinforce our purchase decisions. This is one experience I think gets lost at traditional brick-and-mortar retail.

With the rise of social media, mobile applications, and instore digital-POS signage, we have had the technology to integrate these experiences for some time now. So why have we yet to see a major effort from traditional retailers to try to adapt some of the popular online shopping features to the offline shopping experience?

One retailer that is experimenting with social shopping technology at traditional brick-and-mortar outlets is Sephora, a leading beauty-products retailer. Sephora recently launched a new mobile application that allows shoppers to read product reviews when considering a purchase instore. By logging on to m.sephora.com, shoppers can enter the 12-digit UPC or product name and browse information, consumer reviews, and ratings on the product they are holding in their hand.

It will be interesting to see how traditional retailers begin to adapt to the changes in shopper behavior brought on by online retail. How far will they go to try and create a seamless shopping experience between online and offline for their customers?

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