Are You Ready For The Omni-Channel Consumer?

Are You Ready For The Omni-Channel Consumer?

It sounds almost…ominous. Omni-channel. But the reality of the word – and the deep meaning that lies behind it – is quite the opposite of ominous. If anything else, it may be an omen. An omen for bigger and better things to come for your business. Simply put, the “omni-channel consumer” is the driving force who stands to shape the very future of e-commerce. He and she will likely have an awful lot to say about the next step in brick-and-mortar businesses too. That’s because the omni-channel consumer shops, browses and buys in both the online (e-commerce) and physical retail (in-store) spaces. Even that time-honored, old-school brand Macy’s has been observed recently referring to itself as “an omni-channel retail organization operating stores and websites.”

It sounds almost…ominous.

Omni-channel.

But the reality of the word – and the deep meaning that lies behind it – is quite the opposite of ominous. If anything else, it may be an omen.

An omen for bigger and better things to come for your business.

Simply put, the “omni-channel consumer” is the driving force who stands to shape the very future of e-commerce. He and she will likely have an awful lot to say about the next step in brick-and-mortar businesses too.

That’s because the omni-channel consumer shops, browses and buys in both the online (e-commerce) and physical retail (in-store) spaces. Even that time-honored, old-school brand Macy’s has been observed recently referring to itself as “an omni-channel retail organization operating stores and websites.”
The omni-channel consumer is here. There. Everywhere. He or she may do something like visit their favorite retailer’s website. If that retailer is smart, savvy, mobile-friendly and generally in touch, they may then e-mail this omni-channel consumer with an offer of a cool mobile app. This mobile app might then compel the omni-channel consumer to visit the retailer’s physical, tried-and-true, brick-and-mortar store. Perhaps the omni-channel consumer, while in the store, uses his or her mobile device to scan a QR code or even research products and deals back at the retailer’s website.

In such a case, the path to purchase has come full circle. And it all started online, where strong marketing and e-commerce executions on behalf of the retailer first “hooked” and captured the attention of the omni-channel consumer.

MIT even authored a recent report, entitled, “Beyond the Checkout Cart,” highlighting the importance of the omni-channel consumer to the future of retail – both online and off.

And well-regarded Gartner Research Director Chris Fletcher recently had the following wise words of advice:

“Getting into data, analytics, or mobile isn’t even a decision anymore, so we should stop calling it e-commerce and call it just commerce, or maybe pervasive commerce. It’s happening and you have to deal with it.”

Rising Expectations…

Of course, with all these exciting new opportunities for retailers and e-tailers alike come the ever-increasing expectations of the omni-channel consumer.

The omni-channel consumer expects everything to be always on, and always available. At his or her fingertips. Whenever he or she pleases. According to MIT’s report, 80% of store shoppers now check prices online, with a full one-third accessing the online information on their mobile devices – while inside the physical store.

Mobile usage is ever-present and pervasive in today’s society, and optimizing your business’ site for smooth mobile navigation and functionality (including e-commerce executions) is absolutely vital to success today and tomorrow. The mobile web has boosted brands’ abilities to connect with consumers at any time of the day or week, but if your site isn’t optimized for mobile use, then they’ll lose interest. Fast. Successful mobile integration hinges on many factors including audience targeting, but first and foremost, you must be able to connect with them in a way that is intuitive, engaging and easy.

The Future Starts NOW.

Clearly, then, the line between online and offline, retail and e-tail, commerce and e-commerce, is increasingly blurred. Smart businesses and retailers are recognizing this reality, and adjusting their sites, in-store experiences, mobile experiences and overall marketing and branding to connect with the omni-channel consumer at all these various touch points along the path to purchase.

When you’re ready to optimize your site for e-commerce and mobile functions and solutions that will meet the ever-increasing demands of the omni-channel consumer of today (and tomorrow), drop us a line here at Imagination Media.

We possess the experience, insight, tools and talents to ensure that the omni-channel consumer will become and remain omni-impressed with your business and brand – at every step of the way, at every point in his or her day.

Contact us today to learn more!