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Modern Shopping and the Omnichannel Experience

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Modern shopping has taken great strides in how it is offered to us (via a variety of channels) and how we, the consumers, choose to engage with it. The former is often driven by the latter, and consumers have adapted their shopping ways and are now comfortable engaging through a variety of channels depending on their needs and the category within which they are shopping.

As a longtime and devoted online shopper, my personal experiences with brick-and-mortar shopping have always stemmed from necessity—whether I’ve forgotten to buy enough toilet paper for the week and need some immediately or I have a last-minute special event for which I need a new outfit. Even then, I’ll only resort to brick-and-mortar shopping if the online alternative is simply too hard and the scale of convenience has shifted to a physical store. On the other hand, I do still value both the experience and immediacy of shopping in store, and it’s something that’s been hard to let go of in my online shopping endeavors.

What’s great for me now is how online retailers have recognized the need to mimic this immediacy to satisfy that desire for instant gratification and convenience. An example of this is same-day delivery. While it was traditionally favored by the big supermarkets, it has now been embraced by smaller fashion boutiques like Melbourne store Lo and Behold. If I want that dress to wear tonight, I can have it in my hands within three hours. It’s becoming less and less of a necessity for me to ever go out of my way to buy anything again.

Or is it?

An interesting example of retailers encouraging shopper behind the computer to get into stores is another small retailer, famous Melbourne café St. Ali. When St. Ali first opened its newest café—where they stock their coffee bean blends along with other coffee accessories—it offered customers the opportunity to access one of 70 custom post boxes that would be filled with fresh coffee beans on a weekly basis based on the shopper’s online order.

Shoppers could win these boxes by participating in an online social media competition, a natural target for the likes of myself, but something that created enough of a special experience that I actually wanted to go and see what it was all about. The result was intriguing—the store was beautiful and the idea has made me rethink what value I’m really getting from strictly shopping online.

At the end of the day, retailers cannot survive operating strictly within one channel if they are not offering the conveniences and benefits their channel traditionally lacks. Those who will succeed are those who are willing to go the extra mile for their shoppers, regardless of where the transaction takes place or the media used to get them there.

Contributed by Sinead Choi, Integer Australia

Image Source: Lo & Behold

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