Back in the 70s (yes I do remember that far back) I use to shop in a car accessories store where the owner Phil was so aware of my likes and dislikes as he made it his job to know me. He would call “Peter just received this new audio head unit it does this and that and you have to see it” Down I would run and more often than not I bought what Phil had demonstrated or at worst something else for my efforts. However, it went further than that, Phil knew my likes and needs almost better than I did, he was just one of those gifted sales people that could sell “ice to an Eskimo” or in my case car parts to a petrol head.
So are the days of Phil gone, or does Phil just have lot’s of new tools in his arsenal to understand me even better and with that as a consumer I shouldn’t stand a chance, enter the world of Omni-channel retailing!
You can think of Omni-channel as an evolution of multichannel as consumers often work though multiple channels to make a decision and can even be working through two different channels at the same time to search, select and convert on a product.
Let’s consider for a moment a younger person who is shopping in a brick-and-mortar electronics store for a new iPad case. The shopper picks up two iPad cases, but isn’t sure which one to buy. So, the customer uploads a picture on Facebook to solicit quick advice from friends, also checks out the reviews on the website thanks to conveniently placed QR code. The shopper walks away from the cases, checks back in on the feedback in a few minutes, and then makes a decision based on their in store experience, physically handling the case, price point, social media feedback via Facebook and website review.
Thats Omni-channel, but we still need Phil to close the sale, otherwise I can just as easily leave having used the store as a showroom and buy online.