The Rise of Technology and Omni-Channel Experience


Marge Axelrad, senior vice president/editorial director of Vision Monday.

The way technology is transforming the retail setting and the fact that it's already begun to change the way patients and consumers access eyecare, where they purchase eyewear and what the implications of that are, was presented at dba LIVE by Marge Axelrad, senior vice president/editorial director of Vision Monday, in her discussion on "The Rise of Tech and Omni Channel."

She began with an explanation of the omni-channel concept. "Omni-channel is different than multiple channel retailing. Omni-channel retailing embraces the idea of enabling the customer to relate to your brand and the experience of dealing with your store or your office the same way no matter which medium they're using, virtual or actual," she said. "Consumers today absolutely want to have a smooth interaction across every channel that they deal with, and they are actually further ahead of where most retailers are today. They're starting to communicate in a universal way, and our industry has a lot of catching up to do."

After describing the use of digital media by retailers such as Macy's, Brooks Brothers and The Gap, she brought it closer to home with an example from Sunglass Hut, which "just opened a store in Times Square," she said. "There are iPads and interactive screens. Out on the street in the middle of Times Square, customers can go up to a machine, take photos of themselves, try on glasses, and share those choices with friends. It's a real revolution."

Axelrad then shared how optometric practices are using technology to improve the doctor/patient relationship. "While many doctors can be afraid of digital and ecommerce, there are so many new technologies that build connections with patients," she said. "People are finding constant connectivity helping with staff training and performance evaluations. They're discovering new office efficiencies because of the way that they can interact with patients before they show up or the way they follow up with them later. A few doctors are customizing apps that allow their office communications to reside on somebody's smartphone. They're using technology to explain vision correction products and services and exciting new dynamic things to their patients."

Returning to the omni-channel concept, Axelrad said, "Just recently, the National Retail Federation did a survey of chief information officers, and these executives agreed that omni-channel retailing is their biggest future salvation. They all agreed there would be a need to overhaul systems. They're moving services to the cloud, they're trying to think of ways that they can streamline across various channels so they can track a customer, virtual or real life. Everybody is on a quest to deliver a true omni-channel experience to shoppers, and today's shoppers expect nothing less than that seamless experience."

Click here for a PDF of Marge Axelrad's Vision Monday dba LIVE presentation: "The Rise of Tech and Omni-Channel."