Great Expectations: The "Omnis" Want it All and Right Now

Omnichannels Next Big Challenge: A Retail Trend is Evolving

Omnichannel is now the name of the game. Successful players have created (or in the process of creating) the consistent shopping experience that links online with brick and mortar for a seamless presentation of message and offers. But there’s never any resting on laurels. Here comes the next wave of challenges in marketing to the “Omnis,” those multichannel shoppers who are the retailer’s most valuable customer. This is a retail trend that just won’t stop.

Who Are These Omnis and What Do They Want?

Today, nearly everyone is a cross-channel shopper, buying both online and in-store, but not necessarily weaving the two together into a single experience. That’s what the Omni, a different breed, does. Quite simply, the omnichannel shopper is the shopper you want most. Each one spends on average 50 percent more than their single channel counterparts, with a lifetime value that is 30 percent greater. Digitally powered, they have changed the nature of shopping from a simple transaction to a journey that is dynamic and continuous, a journey that has them bouncing between online and in-store in search of the best merchandise at the best price. The Shopify blog calls the omnichannel shoppers by the acronym “SOLOMOs,” which stands for SOcial, LOcal, and MObile and means that this valuable group is influenced by SOcial media, focused on LOcal brick-and-mortar stores and inseparable from their MObile phones. Eight in ten of them, according to “Beyond the Checkout Cart” a report from MIT, do research with their phones while in-store shopping.

These tech-empowered consumers exhibit elevated expectations about shopping. They are accustomed to the seamless experience finally in place between online and in-store, but now they are looking at availability and delivery as must-haves. When they visit a brick-and-mortar’s site, they want to see the full inventory available to them locally. They want to know where to find their item. If they buy online, they want free in-store pick-up or expedited free delivery. And, if a retailer can provide personalized service, so much the better. So, the next wave of omnichannel retail trends is rolling in right now.

Be ready to catch it.

Meeting the Omnis' Unique Needs: High Tech and High Touch

Retailers can meet the Omnis’ needs on two fronts. The first step is serious investment in the technology needed to create localized fulfillment operations, inventory management, and customer profiling. The second is to develop a team of tablet-enabled sales associates who can provide information and support the Omnis’ shopping goals. Accessible data can help them expedite orders, locate merchandise, reward loyalty with special offers on the spot, and upsell or make suggestions based on knowledge of the shopper’s profile and history. Retailers and retail real estate management companies should guarantee the availability of free and reliable wi-fi storewide to accommodate the “personal shopping assistants” that every Omni carries in the form of a mobile device. If they can’t connect to wi-fi, the Omnis won’t stay for long or be back soon.

Social Shopping Apps, Another Omni-Inspired Retail Trend

Major retail players like Ikea, Macy’s, Home Depot, Walgreens and Target, among others, have introduced branded shopping apps that provide store maps, inventory overview, QR codes, coupons and special offers (many of the latter delivered in real time during the shopping experience). Expect to see more of these.

It’s a safe bet that it won’t be long before the ranks of today’s Omnis are joined by other tech-enabled shoppers – especially as the younger digital natives begin buying in earnest. That may mean of course that the core Omnis will grow more insistent on yet a new set of shopping must-haves. Stay tuned.


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