As adults, we’ve all experienced the same urges. It’s the middle of the night, your significant other asleep beside you. The heat of the night overtakes you. Your mind races in anticipation, you’re thinking of doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing. But your wants and desires overwhelm you.

You reach for your tablet. Your fingers caress the screen. You search for what drives your desire for gratification. Then … you find it. Your heart rate quickens as you click the link, you know what’s about to transpire—the pleasure begins to overwhelm you in the darkness with nothing but the light of the screen glowing under the covers. You give in to your desire, you click madly at the link. And, finally, it’s done.

Congratulations on your purchase—your new tennis shoes will be shipped to you shortly. Please check your email account for shipping details. We thank you for your business.

By the way … what did you think I was talking about?

Okay, admit it, we’ve all done it: the quintessential online purchases that fuel the ever-building need for instant gratification in an ever-evolving and interconnected world. But the question becomes, do we ever think of the consequences? That online purchase theoretically just took money away from a local business. Or perhaps added to the pressure of bricks-and-mortar stores trying desperately to compete with the big online giants. So, if you’ve cheated on your favorite store by buying goods online, does it mean you’ll always cheat? Chances are, yes you will.

The issue, like so many other things in our busy lives, is one where convenience and complacency collide. After all, if it’s easier to buy online with no desire to go in-store—many times there’s no reason why you should—then why not continue to cheat, right?

But what of the retailer? Now, I don’t “mean to be mean,” but in this case, it really does take two to cheat. When a retailer fails to engage in the modern sense, ignoring all signs that the retail paradigm is shifting away from in-store and moving to a more online or in-app model, the retailer must find new ways to entice people to shop on the premises.

This is where omni-channel becomes so important for retailers in the new millennium. But with this new world order, also comes the internet confusion of how omni-channel is supposed to work.

For many, the first argument is: “delivering ads to people’s phones or computers won’t drive people to a store,” and I wholeheartedly agree. However, the issue with this argument is that it’s based on an aging model of advertising—one long gone or relegated to carpet stores or car lots.

In no way should retailers think its about offers—at least not at first. It’s truly about making every experience, whether online, in-app, or in-store, truly unique and gratifying. So, let’s begin with the elusive in-store challenge. What if every time a customer walked into a store you knew who they were, what they like, their product knowledge, their purchase history, and so much more? Now, you truly have a way to better engage and own that customer. If they feel truly appreciated, understood and wanted in that store, then the social aspect of coming in-store to look at goods is much more enticing. Everyone wants to feel special—omni-channel enables that feeling.

Now, let’s back up to the “ad game” part of this. Though omni-channel is never linear in its approach, let’s for the sake of argument and understanding look at this from a linear timeline. A customer shops in-store and is always greeted and made to feel special. They feel as though the store clerk knows them, appreciates them, and is genuinely glad to see them. With this comes custom offers in real-time: personal discounts, extra rewards points, and so on. The outcome from the in-store experience is highly positive.

But now as that person leaves, they check their store app and find additional deals, offers, personal greetings, and thank you messages through chat, and more. To the customer, it’s like they are still connected to the bricks-and-mortar location. They are awarded more offers or points, suggested goods that aren’t in-store, and so on—all making the in-app experience an extended connection to the retailer. Now, a few days later, the customer logs onto the store’s eCommerce platform—and again, they receive greetings and materials that make them feel connected to real people.

The outcome? Better customer experience wins every time. And whether they started online or in-app that led to in-store, or any permutation or sequence, the outcome should always be the same: a great customer experience from beginning to end, regardless of medium.

So, the next time you’re in bed with certain urges that lead to cheating on local retailers—urges that can only be satisfied through eCommerce—pick a retailer who has omni-channel covered. Though the internet is full of wonderful things, nothing beats eventual human interaction.  😉