Horizon616 / flickr

How retail stores should use the internet to their advantage

So, I want some new shoes.

I want to use Zappos, but I’m not sure those shoes are going to fit, and I don’t want to go through the hassle of returning them if they don’t.

I go on Camper’s website to browse. I like one pair they have. Is this certain model available at Camper’s downtown store? I don’t know.

I really should be able to enter my city, select a store, and see everything the store has in stock via Camper’s online website.

I really should be able to put shoes on hold via Camper’s online website.

I really should be able to chat with a retail associate live and ask questions via Camper’s online website.

This all really should be either on a store’s online website or mobile application, or both.

You see, brick and mortar retail doesn’t have to die so fast. When I want stuff, I want it now. Ordering stuff online is nice, but I usually opt for free shipping, and that usually takes longer than I’d like to wait.

I want to go on a website, see a live inventory, and be able to ask live questions from the people at my local store.

If I was able to find out about this certain shoe’s resistance to water, tell the associate what time I’d be able to stop by to try it on, and find out if this certain model was in stock for sizes 10-13 at my particular store, all through a cool, immersive mobile or online application, I’d probably be at Camper right now, buying a shoe. Getting what I want. Right now.

Now, of course, I could call, but my experience with calling is usually not a great time, or even a good one. I think an application could add some pizzazz, personality, fluidity, and fun to the experience. A cool, digital experience would motivate me. It’s a great opportunity for an emotional “consumer-brand” connection.