riding a bike with no hands

I hope you all got what you wanted during the holiday season.  For many of you, “a day off” ranked high on the list. 

But now we're all back at work, toying with resolutions many of us have already broken.

Is This Real Life?

I spent a lot of time shopping this holiday season, walking Chicago’s malls and main streets to not only see how strong the economy and retail market is, but to also find good examples of companies integrating digital and physical environments to drum up sales.

In the process of my travails, I saw something extraordinary — something a lot of retail analysts have contended has not taken place in quite some time. 

Human beings were actually talking, sensing and engaging in real conversations based on discussions between salespeople — all without mobile devices in hand

They were engaged with visually appealing merchandise that did not necessarily have a Star Wars logo on it (I saw the Force awakened, but hoped it would take a nap every now and again). 

For a lot of shoppers, these discussions were turning into transactions with the potential to develop into long-term relationships.

Not a Mobile Device in Sight

The most interesting part, with the exception of the Apple Store and a few other retailers, was the absence of any kiosks, iPads or mobile devices to influence the purchase or gift selection experience.

I have always been a retail purist.  Retailing is what got me into PR and it has been a great teaching tool about how consumers and shoppers interact with the brands and products that matter most to them. 

Above all else, that purity started without technology infiltrating the consumer shopping experience. But for nearly 20 years we have been, for better or worse, deluged with technology and the omnichannel experience.

Could we see a resurgence of that purity moving forward?

Be Human

I am sure a lot of you are in Las Vegas right now for CES 2016 to see what’s next, what’s new and what lies on the horizon. I will be following it as well. 

But how many presenters, product makers and technologists will be pushing for human interaction and connectivity that doesn’t involve transistors, wireless tech and the use of an app? 

We here at CMSWire are strong believers in digital transformation and the use of technology to amplify the customer experience. 

But technology cannot replace human interaction, no matter how much we talk about AI, virtual reality and all of the other tricks of the trade.

At the end of the day, talking with one another in person is the earliest form of social media; let’s not forget that.  It was nice to see a few retailers didn’t forget that, either.