I caught a glimpse of the future when my daughter was in 5th grade. She was sitting in the corner of the living room talking into her iPhone. I asked what she was doing and she said “Writing a paper, Dad.” That gave me pause. I asked a few more questions and she said “Dad, I dictate my paper to Google Docs, then log into the computer to edit mistakes and grammar later!”
Fast forward 18 months and Amazon launches the Echo and Alexa was added to our family. Now I hear every day, “Alexa, turn on the bedroom lights” or “Alexa, add detergent to my shopping cart.” The barriers to commerce are going down rapidly. I can dictate my shopping list to Alexa, Siri, Cortana or Google Home. To each of these devices I can ask about products I am interested in, where they are located, how much they are and what others say about them. I no longer have to walk into a store, be at my computer or even look at my phone. I can push the talk button in my car to activate Siri and have a shopping experience as I drive to and from work.
Apple Pay and Amazon Prime make purchases very simple and more and more companies are either integrating with or adding their own payment capabilities to their apps. I can order groceries from Wal-mart, schedule a time to pick them up where Wal-mart will load them in my car, inform me of items that were not in stock or items they substituted and get product recommendations from the staff that I see every week.
The experience is frictionless. The things I hate about going shopping are being stripped away and convenience is leading the way to stickiness between consumers and their retailers and brands. Those that do it best blur the line between digital and physical. Take Bonobos, which launched as an online Men’s Boutique store. I never would have purchased something from them until happened upon one of their showrooms in downtown Minneapolis. When I walked in I was greeted by Todre. He asked what brought me in that day, probed my style and proceeded to curate a series of sport coats for me. As I narrowed my selection, he asked about shirts, pants and accessories I like. Todre then brought out items that would go well with the sport coat I liked. He informed me of promotions for being a first time buyer and volume buying discounts on the shirts I liked. In the end, I had walked in because I was curious and left $800 poorer with a box of clothes on the way to my door. His service is what sold me on Bonobos. However, Bonobos earned not just my dollars, but now knew my style, address and credit card number. Over the proceeding months Todre checked in with me a few times and Bonobos sent me targeted emails with items they knew would pique my interest.
At Red Wing Shoe Company, we look at how we can blur the lines of all the channels that our consumers like to operate in. We want to be there where they are. On their phones, tablets and computers through our digital properties. In their workplace via our mobile truck stores, and on their street corners with our 500+ stores. We not only want our consumers to think about Red Wing as a heritage brand that protects their feet and makes great American Product, but as a partner in defining their style, enabling their outdoor experiences and protecting their feet on the job or at home.