(Source) The development of multi-channel marketing is one of the most impactful things happening in internet retail these days. As I have written about before, the idea that customers want to order online but pick up their merchandise in a physical store seems counter intuitive. However, there is growing evidence that they want to do exactly that. This gives a tremendous advantage to multi-channel merchants because not only do they see an increase of online sales but they also see significant upsell revenue once they get their online customers into their stores.
Multi-channel marketing is in its infancy, but I believe it’s here to stay. The verdict is out on Internet shopping. People don’t want to buy online. They want to shop online and pick up products in the store. Why? They still don’t trust the medium. Not completely.
Consumers Respect Their Money
Let’s face it. People are picky about their money. They have credit cards, but they don’t want to risk identity theft even though all assurances are in place to protect their private data. That’s why companies doing business online will have to consider how they will take customer orders and process them in the store for pick up. I think retailers will end up borrowing a page from the restaurant play book. Future online retail transactions could look like this:
- Consumers will go online to shop for a product
- They will compare two or three merchants for prices and service options
- Once they make a choice, the consumer will order the item they want online but won’t pay for it
- They will get in their automobile and drive over to the store to pick up their item (at their convenience, of course)
- They will head straight to a special counter designed specifically to process Internet orders; their item will already be waiting for them
- The clerk at the Internet window will ring up the customer’s order and attempt to up sell a few related items while they have the customers’ attention
- After the up sell is closed (or not), the item will be paid for and the customer will take their product and go
The Electronic Version Of Online Retail
Another version of this method is less human and more electronic. Retailers could have a check out window where Internet customers can walk up to and pay for their item (just like at your local supermarket). Once the item is paid for, a store employee will bring the pre-ordered item to the customer and the customer will walk out of the store with a smile.
I hope that doesn’t sound far-fetched. It seems to me to be quite likely that local retailers will move in that direction. To get there, they will have to optimize their websites for local search and to close the sale for every specific item in their online catalog.