Omni-channel. It’s certainly a strong buzzword these days, but what does it mean? And more importantly, what should it mean to you and your brick-and-mortar store? At its most basic, omni-channel is the catchall term for the way consumers shop today. From desktop to mobile or buying online and picking up in store, consumers are now in control of a very free flowing process that also includes research or “browsing” both online and off, physical interactions as well as social interactions and recommendations.
The major misconception often found in omni-channel approaches, is the “build it and they will come” model, when in fact, customers will find their own pathway to the transaction. The key is not in attempting to dictate their route so much as it is in easing their journey and providing a cohesive and convenient path to purchase. Apple is a good example of cohesive messaging that makes shopping easy for the customer. Consider that their print ads, signage, television campaigns, in-store experience, and online shopping all feel incredibly familiar. Apple works tirelessly at brand commonality and voice, and makes it easy to transact business with them. Browse online, reserve in the store. Buy online, pick up at store. Buy at the store, return online. Buy in store, have out of stock accessories shipped directly to you—the scenarios are numerous.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have been fighting the good fight, but have struggled to compete with many their online counterparts. Yet the simple fact remains, ecommerce accounts for less than 10% of today’s total retail purchases. The store is NOT dead and it’s time to take advantage of digital influence.
Consumers still frequent brick-and-mortar locations, and the desire to touch and feel a product has not gone away. But consumers do want more personalization, they want to feel “known” in a store just as they do online – not only who they are, but their shopping preferences as well. Some shoppers may want a personal interaction while others may simply want to follow digital cues just as they do online. Digital displays, both large and small are the bridge from the most favored device (our smart phone) to a new digitally influenced shopping experience that many consumers are favoring. Keep in mind, Gen Z (the newest and most influential demographic coming of age) are “digital natives”. They have always had a cell phone and computer at their fingertips.
If you are wondering if a digital display is right for you, keep these facts in mind:
Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text
90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
40% of people respond better to visual information than text