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Chicago

To shop, or not to shop?

That’s not even the question, writes Arc’s Alexandra Zajac

Yes, we will shop. The real question is: how?

Online and mobile experiences are taking us so far beyond the shelves, yet the more successful the online destination, the more likely it is we’ll see a brick-and-mortar version. Like Rent the Runway. Warby Parker. Even Amazon. Which begs another question: Considering the investment more online brands are making into the physical sphere, has the ether of the interweb become less compelling?

Conversely, online is encroaching into our IRL stores more and more. Take Sephora, and even some Walgreens. These stores house big, fancy screens that allow shoppers to browse through online product info and reviews. Say you’re in-store, physically clutching that Korean face mask your fave blogger claims is “lich-rally” the best. But despite your plethora of pre-shop research, you still wonder, What’s everyone saying today? So you consult the gigantic screen that has all the answers. Or rather, you consult your own phone, which holds that store’s app, which has the same functionality. Then you conveniently enable the NFC chip in your phone to redeem any geo-targeted deals. Done and done.

The point is, no branded touchpoint is an island. More than ever, shopping habits are completely fluid, from in-store to mobile to online, and shoppers want their habits honored. And when it comes to finally making the purchase, for most it arguably comes down to convenience — is it worth staying home and paying a premium to get it tomorrow? Or would they rather drive a mile to touch something versus waiting four to seven business days? And how much does the branded retail experience play into that decision? Or, more provocatively, will stores simply become showrooms with same-day delivery, enabling us to curate our selections, buy, try at home, then return the rejects to a warehouse via our designated on-demand UPS driver turned personal shopper?

Ultimately, there’s a sort of what-comes-first (or rather, which do you consult first) conundrum — internet or in-store? Each has a different, though equally valuable, contribution to our purchasing process. But because everyone has personal shopping preference, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, increasingly making the two inextricably linked. It’s like, you can’t have a chicken omelet without the chicken and the egg. Otherwise you only ordered an omelet. Or a chicken. Just a little brunch food for thought.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a break from hypothesizing and find items to add to my Target.com basket to buy online and pick up at the store.


Alexandra Zajac is a senior copywriter at Arc Worldwide, part of The Leo Burnett Group.

The views expressed by the author are hers alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Leo Burnett Group.