The rise of hyper-channel shoppers

Traditionally, retailers and merchants decided much of the shopping experience. They controlled where they opened and which products consumers could buy. If one retailer didn’t offer a specific product, shoppers would be forced to go elsewhere or settle with an alternative. Consumers just didn’t have that many options because they were often limited by geographic location.

The internet has put control of the shopping experience back into the hands of consumers. Wendy Liebmann, CEO and founder of WSL Strategic Retail, recently spoke in-depth about this transformation at Retail’s Big Show 2013, an annual conference for merchants. Nowadays, if a merchant is out of product, consumers don’t have to settle on an alternative, wait for that retailer to get it back in stock or drive out of their way to a different store – they just log on to a different eCommerce website.

Liebmann calls these empowered consumers “hyper-channel shoppers” because they don’t allow retailers to define their buying habits. They get what they want, no matter how many hoops they need to jump through and which channel they have to use to get it, whether it’s an in-store purchase, an eCommerce pickup or bought off of a site like eBay.

Essentially, the shopping experience is growing increasingly omnichanneled. In-store and online operations were previously handled separately, but are growing more entwined through features such as ordering products directly to specific stores and in-store pickup. Some retailers are taking one step forward by making online and brick-and-mortar experiences similar to each other. For example, Burberry’s London arm is now designing their physical stores based off of their websites by positioning interactive screens throughout the store.

“Shoppers aren’t one-size-fits-all, and the closer a retailer can get in matching their store to their consumer the better,” the National Retail Foundation reports, paraphrasing her speech. “It’s not just a nice, clean or cool store shoppers want; they are looking for an experience.”

To keep up with consumer demands and needs, merchants should consider investing in eCommerce software. The right omnichannel solution can help retailers with several mission-critical tasks that are crucial to keeping these hyper-channel shoppers spending money are their businesses, ranging from order management to customer data and analytics.