Cross Channel Sales

Do corporations today recognize the power that lies in an effective cross channel sales strategy? I would argue that some do but many do not. For example, at this point most major retailers recognize the need to offer a "pick up in-store" option when shopping online. The fact that I can buy a bunch of cool stuff from Best Buy and then pick it up in their store sounds like a great option to me. I pay the same price but avoid the shipping costs (and someone picks the items from the shelf for me). Here's the problem: Most brick and mortar stores are ill-equipped to handle online purchasing traffic. That is, it can be supremely easy to buy something online and opt to pick it up in the store. However, the in-store experience can be a dismal one. In most cases the staff that service these online purchases are part of the customer (dis)service counter and it takes longer for them to *find* your order than it would for me to actually pull my items off the shelf.

I mentioned Best Buy but they are actually further ahead from a cross channel sales perspective than many of their competitors. I'm looking at the you over there in the corner....Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target. Your prices are great but I often opt for other online retailers (with the in-store pickup option) based on what I remember about the in-store experience. Ugh, what a hassle it can be to simply communicate to a retail associate that I ordered something online for pick-up in the store.

The takeaway: Your offline retail experience has the potential to *kill* your online sales activity. Remember that you are the experience....offline, online, catalog....it doesn't matter. What the consumer will remember is their overall impression of all interactions. They will not discern between great prices/great selection online and a dismal offline experience.