In a recent issue, Harvard Business Review published an article under this same title, detailing the mashup of the digital and physical retail experience. Mind you, I am often turned off to any article that begins with “the future of…anything ” but this had some true insights into channel marketing.
I often identify myself as “the new consumer.” I read product reviews before visiting a manufacturer’s website. Once I’ve made my choice, I toggle back and forth between tabs of several retailers’ websites, finding out very quickly where to get the best price or best service. I am the girl who scans bar codes in front of the salesperson, refuting his/her “lowest price” claim. Unfortunately, the retail industry is very technophobic and not quite ready for me. And that’s not just retailers, but brands and manufacturers who sell through the channel. Categories like B2B, healthcare and education have done a better job of adopting digital from within, thus influencing how they serve this new audience.
Some brands get it. For instance, Electrolux. As a recent customer, they were there with me all along the path to purchase. More important, it was a consistent “omnichannel” brand experience. Meaning, whether I purchased online or off, at a big box or independent dealer, I always had the same experience with the brand. For example, they offered the same sale price whether it was purchased at a mass retailer or individual dealer. Sony is another example of a manufacturer who “gets it”. Unfortunately, plenty of others have no clue. Not only does this make my experience inconsistent, but it actually delays my purchase because I have to research best prices for days/weeks.
The takeaway is this: redesign your customer/shopper/end user experience. Start from scratch, literally draw the path of your customer, and break down the barriers that prevent you from offering one, consistently perfect experience. Otherwise, I and thousands like me will move on to your…competition.