By  on November 15, 2006

Consumers today have the ability to research and purchase items in more ways than ever before. To bring retailers up to speed on these "superconsumers," Chad Doiron, a senior strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates, said it is crucial to make the online-to-in-store experience as seamless as possible.

Approximately 90 percent of customers shop online, and he said most consumers have difficulty naming a store that is consistent from its Web site to its retail space. "The superconsumer is demanding," he said. "They want service on demand. This is a new dimension of retailing."

Doiron described an area of best practices that is emerging, called the four Ds — dynamic, distributed, diversified and differentiated.

Dynamic refers to information within an organization that is "customer-facing and ever-changing. Bring information and put it into the store and make it available to the customer while they are shopping," he said. One example is the shoe department at Federated Department stores. Sales associates are equipped with handheld devices that allow them to share information about the colors and sizes that can be delivered to the customer without leaving them.

Doiron gave The Container Store as an example of distributed. Customers are given handheld units to scan the items they want to purchase. This procedure allows the customer to shop without holding heavy items; meanwhile, the sales associate doesn't have to waste time restocking items that the customer decides not to purchase.

Doiron explained that differentiated refers to consumers building relationships with retailers in a unique way.

Finally, he held up Best Buy as an example of being diversified. This is the first year that more music has been purchased on the Internet than in stores — and Best Buy is adapting to this shift by making music available on its Web site, via its digital music store.

"It's important to sell the retail experience to the consumer," he added. "There is a need for service and mobility. The notion of one size fits all is irrelevant."

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