What You See When You See Me: Anatomy of an Omnichannel Shopper


“Not everything is what it seems.” Or, rather, not every consumer is who one thinks he is. Retailers, who are used to interacting with traditional shoppers, those who visited stores to see which products were in stock and to learn about the “latest news” in situ, are now facing a very different client: one which shops using multiple touch points or “channels”, which means that they cross the online and the offline realms.

Harvard Business Review, which is an extension of the American university and is devoted to the investigation and publication of content related to management, has studied the behavior of 46,000 consumers who made purchases for 14 months, from June 2015 to August 2016. And this is one of the most important findings of their investigation: only 7% of the participants surveyed were “online shoppers”, and 20% shopped in brick-and-mortar stores. The rest, 73% of respondents, used “several channels during their shopping experience.” 

The omnichannel consumer unveiled

What do omnichannel consumers think? What shopping experience do they seek? Shane Barker, marketing consulting specialist, wrote an article for Forbes in which she states that the main issue for retailers is the need to “discover where the audience is.” That is, where they get information, where they see the products and where they decide to buy them. The author also mentions the case of Nordstrom, one of the most famous clothing, footwear and accessories stores in the United States. Baker says that the brand’s premise is to offer customers an enjoyable shopping experience regardless of where they choose to shop. For that reason, they give customers the possibility of shopping using their Instagram profiles: just by tapping on the product, customers may see the price and quickly go to the product page to pay for whatever they want to buy. Shoppable posts on Instagram are one of the best, fastest and most effective tools for consumers and sellers; many of the purchases made today come directly from views on Instagram.

For this to take place, a good synergy between the online and the offline realms is necessary, while also taking into account how they relate to social networks. Jumbo, one of the largest retailers in Argentina, for example, allows customers to shop online and pick up the products at the store without getting off the car, by showing their ID and the order number at a special spot in the parking lot. After picking up the order, shoppers are also given a dispatch sheet for them to verify they have received everything they have purchased online. This formula not only saves consumers time but it is also a good way to give them omnichannel buying alternatives that are not exclusively online or offline but a combination of both options.

Keep moving

The best way to understand this new type of shopper is through the concept of movement: omnishoppers do not use one channel or the other, but rather use all channels at the same time. One day they may prefer one of them: they may go to the brick-and-mortar store and shop there. Another day they may shop online. There may also be a cross-over between them: shoppers may investigate a product on the brand’s website, but as they prefer to actually look at it before buying it, they visit the point of sale. For that reason, it is essential that channels complement each other and that retailers constantly assess the behavior of these users to offer them good shopping experiences and information, and facilitate the process.

Some stores are already focusing on omnichannel users and providing tailored technological solutions that help create more enjoyable experiences. Pusher-POP is one of the first companies in Argentina to offer this type of tools: from pushers that help users make sure there are no missing products, to smart gondolas that provide solutions to customers and give information about offers and promotions. The company also develops new technologies to get to know omniconsumers. Hardware and software are installed in points of sale and collect valuable information, such as how much time consumers spend in front of a shelf, which the most and the least purchased items are, etc. All this information is a highly valuable tool for retailers. It gives them the power to communicate a message to customers at the point of sale in the best moment: when they are deciding what to buy.

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