O.M. Powers, Principal of the Metropolitan Business College, introduced Commerce and Finance (1903) with:
“The history of commerce is the history of civilization. In his barbarous state man’s wants are few and simple… but as he advances… his wants increase and he requires not only the comforts and conveniences of life but even the luxuries.
“Civilized man is never satisfied… Commerce is one of the means by which various peoples have at different times undertaken to supply their needs.”
Songwriters Keith Richards and Mick Jagger weren’t the only ones who “can’t get no satisfaction” even though they try — and try — and try.
Now, more than one hundred years after publication of Powers’ book, civilized men and women still haven’t reached commercial satisfaction. They keep shopping for more. Which is great news for all merchants.
Customers around the world just keep shopping. Some prefer offline bricks-and-mortar stores, and others prefer to buy online. Yet the boundaries blur and converge with each passing day.
Offline and online have begun to collide, and omni channel commerce reflects the collision point. It’s here to stay, so let’s take look.
What to Know: Omni Channel Commerce Approach
Omni channel commerce is about your customers, and how they want to shop. In an earlier post we concluded: “Omnichannel retail is the current way to say multi-channel marketing. Plus it’s more — a more robust focus on the customer experience you offer.”
The easier it is for consumers to find you, browse your website for products or services, make their selection, and buy, the more customers you’ll attract and keep.
This isn’t about whether a shop front bests an ecommerce site (or vice versa). It’s about how retailers can and should accommodate and offer the same good experience regardless of the path a customer chooses.
A June 2017 omni channel commerce news story from Forbes discusses Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. Tom McGee relays that the merger validates online shopping sites and physical stores converging to provide better shopping experiences.
Per McGee, “Increasingly, the online shopping experience is supported by physical stores, and vice versa. It’s not either/or. It’s both.”
For merchants with both bricks-and-mortar storefronts and ecommerce sites, the concepts may seem fairly intuitive. By applying a bit of critical thinking and ingenuity, others can adjust their marketing mix to join the omni channel commerce movement too.
Identify a customer attraction approach that worked successfully for a physical store, and rejig/enhance it to attract customers to your website. Rethink typical online shopping features to apply in-store. Or, ask your staff (or customers) to fill in the blank:
Shopping at xyz would be so much easier if only ________.
Omni Channel Commerce Applications In Use Today
Shoppers at Home Depot (the mega home improvement store) now have the best of both online and offline worlds. Home Depot’s mobile shopping app includes a plethora of omni channel commerce goodness. Users of the app can:
- Buy products in the app to pick up at a store.
- Find a specific product within a store. The app displays a store map, and lists the specific aisle — and the current inventory available — for the item a customer wants.
- Take a picture of an unfamiliar item, and the app shows a list of similar products, allowing customers to comparison shop.
- Scan product barcodes for more detailed product information.
- Read customer reviews — chat with an expert — and make shopping lists.
Visitors to such mega stores immediately recognize the value. New technologies deliver even more robust shopping experiences.
The Home Depot mobile shopping app provides an Augmented Reality (AR) feature to help customers visualize products in their own homes. By using their smartphone cameras, customers can see 2D images of products they want, placed in a virtual setting of their home.
Brands like IKEA utilize augmented reality technology too. They’re bringing the in-store experiences to online shoppers via the IKEA virtual showroom. In pilot now, the IKEA VR Experience brings a virtual kitchen to customers through their mobile device.
Writing for Townsquared Resources, Tracy Vides sums it up: “Augmented reality… seamlessly combines the digital and real worlds to provide content on an extremely individualized level where the user can make informed decisions based on their wants and needs.”
In Singapore, shopping malls compete to attract millennial shoppers. Omni channel commerce initiatives of note include a pilot project between collaborators CapitaLand Mall Asia (which manages 17 malls) and Philips Lighting.
The pilot project uses visible light communication (VLC), LED-based indoor positioning technology, and Philips light fixtures to communicate with shoppers’ smartphones.
Smartphone cameras pick up a unique light frequency from Philips lights, positioning technology pinpoints a shopper’s location, and shoppers navigate the mall with an app to find stores they want.
Stores in turn send targeted marketing messages, special deals, and coupons to nearby shoppers via the app — making the shopping experience more personalized and interactive.
This blog post from BigCommerce contains lots of user stats and insightful analysis on where Americans shop (parsed by age group, gender, city size, and more) presented in a colorful info graphic.
An important step you can take while working toward omni channel commerce success is choosing the right payments processor.
You’ll identify many options in the industry, but not all processors enjoy the same strong reputation or know the payments industry from the inside out. The right processing partner for your business simplifies payments by focusing on solutions that meet your needs.
Because maybe you have better things to do than to worry about the latest marketing trends and technologies. But you can learn from and work with someone who keeps up in order to help you succeed — no matter where you want omni channel commerce to take you.