Driven by technology, the web, community and the search for ever-richer experiences, the world of shopping is undergoing a sweeping transformation. I will explore the forces of change and provide a framework in which we can envision this new future, a future where we can use the power of outdoor and technology to influence the final :30 of a consumer’s purchase decision.
Evolution of the shopper: Our shopping behaviours are changing…
There is a new mindset among shoppers. They are…
Retailers must begin to contemplate the impact of digital media and the effects it is having on purchase decisions. In this connected world, information builds confidence. Information empowers shoppers to make informed decisions – assuring they have made the right choices. Connected devices, whether a mobile phone or a web-enabled interactive screen, are making what was once a solitary trip to the store a socially connected event. As shoppers go through the process of discovering new products, testing them, and reflecting on their purchases, they are sharing these thoughts with their social networks and influencing perception amongst their peer group. Retailers must embrace and facilitate this sharing of information and retail outlets need to evolve to create experiences that drive sales both in-store and within online social networks.
In the last 4 years, the recession has changed shopping habits. In so many countries, the economic difficulties have prompted consumers to examine their spending and identify areas where savings might be made. The shopper is now experiencing a new perception of “value” and this is key to many changes. Consumers are shopping differently and evaluating innovations differently and making choices at a much higher level – not just at an item level but whether to purchase items at all.
Shoppers today are more knowledgeable about retailers and the merchandise they offer. There is an increasing shopper’s demand to have the power to decide how, when and where to shop. For example, “click and collect” services provided by retailers melds digital and physical commerce by letting shoppers order online, then picking up the goods at a store nearby, or delivering to their homes. In this era of seamless integration of both the physical and online worlds, shoppers are expecting retailers to have a multi-channel shop. Delivery lockers by Amazon allow shoppers to pick up their online orders from nearby locations at their own convenience. This is a good way to knock down any shopper barriers to e-commerce and avoid the costs associated with missed deliveries. Hyper-personalisation is still in its infancy stages but retailers who use data-driven insights will create new opportunities to empower the shopper, such as the ability to remind shoppers to buy what they need at the right moment. For example, geo-fencing techniques have been used at skin care brand Kiehl’s stores to send geofenced texts to opted-in customers around its shops. Nonetheless, there is a moral debate about the use of shopper data and privacy so retailers must tread with caution. Transparency and honesty is now the third most important purchasing factor for shoppers behind price and quality, and shoppers now understand the far-reaching impact their purchasing decisions have and are aware of the pressure on them to choose ‘carefully’.
The shopper’s experience will be the key differentiator of any retailer.
It’s about putting the shopper at the centre of the experience and understanding that they will continuously zigzag their way between the real and virtual worlds. As these boundaries continue to blur, shopper expectations will become increasingly medium-agnostic. Rather than simply reflecting consistent content and messages across channels, this new multi-channel experience is rooted in context, appropriateness, and fulfilment.
Retail will continue its move from the transactional to predominantly experiential, where brands are experienced as personalities and interaction is playful and personality-driven. In a highly commoditised retail landscape, engaging experiences will become the preferred way to expose consumers to a retailer’s offerings.
The Internet hasn’t destroyed brick-and-mortar retailers, as some once feared, but it’s forever changed shopper expectations and behaviour, forcing offline retailers to try to replicate the efficiency and personalization of e-commerce. There will be times when a customer wants a simple transaction and it will be up to the store to support a range of shopping needs. Experience needs to be transparently tailored to the mood the shopper is in, whether it’s a targeted search or a leisurely exploration.
More and more, consumers expect a multi-channel experience. The days of consumers interacting with a brand through channel silos are gone. Likewise, a consumer’s brand perception is no longer limited to mass communication (ads, graphics, store design). Instead, the consumer interacts with a brand across multiple channels, with the retailer itself becoming the shopper experience.
Shopping can be about browsing, checking something off the to-do list or making great discoveries along the way. It’s not just about a means to an end, it’s about the unexpected find that leads to a great story. Putting product on a rack and expecting it to sell is not enough; evolving retailers must find ways to encourage exploration and the sense of discovery as means of enhancing the customer’s experience. Through the dynamic use of space, the most successful store owners are pushing the boundaries of storytelling, product testing and education – aspects of evolved services that lead to loyalty and repeat sales.
Evolution of the retailer: From traditional to multi-channel approach…
In order to keep up with the needs and demands of today’s shopper, the retail environment needs to evolve. For the most part, today’s retailers are not keeping up with the shopper evolution – they’ve been slow to anticipate change and haven’t responded fast enough to change as it is happening. Retailers continuously have to provide superior shopping experiences in these challenging conditions. For example, offline retail is embracing more technology-driven shopping experiences to better replicate the efficiency, autonomy, and endlessness of the online space.
Retailers that are keeping pace are seeing massive gains in market share, while those that lag are being losing ground in a dramatic fashion.
Being outdoors: It’s about putting the consumer at the centre of the experience.
1. Make it easy
Retailers need to lower the barriers to completing transactions. Shoppers are always looking for the ultimate convenience, whether it is shopping 24/7 or spending the least amount of time in a queue. The Global Association for Retail Marketing has reported that shoppers only tolerate 05:54 on average in queue time before abandoning their shopping baskets.
It is also important for retailers to open-up their distribution channels in order for shoppers to build their baskets anywhere. Shoppers now look for product availablility through any channel, not just through conventional means as 40% of them consult at least 3 sources or more before making a purchase. And staying in these lines, to increase instantaneous payment experiences beyond the store.
2. Shop their way
Outdoor creates for natural ‘shoppable windows’ transforming high dwell-time spaces into 24/7 catalogues for the on-the-go shopper – think ‘Wall as a Mall’. It is an opportunity to provide a multi-channel experience to covert street passersby into shoppers while giving them the opportunity to showcase what they can find in the retail stores. Digital displays may deliver an interactive experience to give shoppers extra incentive to come in-store. While reaching them outdoors, it provides an extension of the retailer’s presence in a creative way that really shows off the products while reaching easily distracted highly mobile shoppers.
3. Make it tempting
Outdoor displays may provide for dynamic information hubs – bringing information usually available online into the physical space for shoppers to explore. It is the last window of influence, and a key medium to reach shoppers in the last 30 minutes prior to purchase to offer relevance and ‘in the moment’ interactivity. Awareness of outdoor advertising may increase the likelihood to find out more about a product and to buy. Advertising outdoors has the capability to disrupt and divert shoppers to drive sales. When combined with mobile, the messages become contextually relevant playing a significant role in pointing people towards retailers at their exact location. Technologies, such as NFC, beacons and touchscreen to name a few have the capabilities to provide higher value of engagement – by taking shoppers closer to the point of purchase.
4. Make it social
When shoppers are out and about, there is an opportunity to seamlessly integrate between push and pull media touchpoints, creating playful and interactive experiences. Instant content delivery has the ability to take the store to the shopper – serving as complementing services for real-time information and personalised messages.
Evolution of Commerce: The modern shopper experience…
Everything is retail : A move from stimulated to purchase instantaneously.
The increasing access to mobile web is allowing shopping to take place virtually anywhere. The introduction of connected technologies will change the way retailers do business and provide customer service.
Showrooming : Never closed for business
In a connected world, shoppers expect fluid and transparent information. Retailers must empower shoppers by providing them with all the tools needed to make an informed purchase decision.
Personalisation: Catering to shoppers in real time
Whether physical or through connected technologies, shopping is still best experienced socially. Retailers are increasingly able to predict shopper behaviours, needs or wants as digital technologies can serve real-time information. Taking the store to the shopper, these technologies can serve as complimentary services to provide personalised coupons, product recommendations based on past behaviour algorithms and even live interactive product demonstrations.
I have developed an infographic which demonstrates how outdoor advertising influences the shoppers journey and why it should be considered as an important part in the marketing mix to reach this consumer. See below.