The 2014 deep freeze across the country has kept the ka-ching of online purchasing going strong beyond the usual fixed holiday sales season. While shoppers are spared frostbite wandering the virtual malls, retailers are breaking a sweat vying for wallet share in both the digital and physical worlds. Consumers, however, are blind to the distinction between in-store and online shopping; for them, the lines are blurred – it is all the same brand and it is all retail.

Not news to a majority of retailers but not realized either according to a Forrester Research survey commissioned by AT&T in the spring of 2013. Surprisingly, 82 percent of respondents rated the omni-channel customer experience as critical to delivering on a company’s brand promise. But, and this is the surprising part, as little as 37 percent have employed the most differentiating element.

What does that mean? That retailers recognize that they need to be everywhere their customer base is – at the mall, in the cloud, on their phones, tablets, desktops, and laptops. And they must offer the same superior customer experience across all platforms. This is a tall order demanding cutting-edge, tightly assimilated technologies and sophisticated systems. Forrester reveals more insights and recommendations in their thought leadership paper entitled, Retail Direction: The State Of Retail Adoption Of Connectivity, Cloud, And Mobile To Meet Consumers’ New Requirements.

Deep Freeze Fuels Omni-channel Imperative2 1 14

The time is now for retailers to warm up to customer conveniences like online, mobile and loyalty innovations or they will be left out in the cold.

What retail trends do you see changing the customer experience? Do you have thoughts on how to better engage consumers within the omni-channel shopping experience?