Today’s consumers use their mobile devices as a modern form of hunting and gathering—collecting information online before buying a product. Gennady Volchek explains how to bridge the gap between pre-shop research and in-store purchase.
The world loves to shop. Few activities satisfy our most primitive hunter and gatherer instincts as much as the act of searching for that perfect purchase. But the mobile age has irrevocably changed our shopping habits forever. Today, we hunt and gather with our fingertips—seeking information and reviews before and we take the product to the checkout.
In Australia, 65 per cent of customers say they use a digital device to assist them before going shopping, while 31 per cent of customers report using a digital device to assist them while they are shopping in a store. Similar trends are echoed around the world. A report by Euromonitor International suggests that “customer demand for omnichannel shopping is unlikely to slow down, and retailers operating in different regions of the world will need to overcome the technical and branding challenges of seamlessness to become truly omnichannel”.
As a result, retailers and brands are creating unique and interesting in-store activations to entice customers to share their shopping experiences on social media or subscribe to owned-marketing channels and apps to help sustain the brand’s reach. As the competition for consumers grows, the omnichannel sales approach is expected to become a more important feature of the future retail experience.
Bridging the gap between pre-shop research and in-store purchase
In a world of increasing choices, consumers today demand more details about the brands and products they want to purchase. Although social, digital and traditional forms can impact consumer research and consideration, convenience and price are still the two most important influences on a purchasing decision. Have a low enough price, though, and convenience takes a back seat. How do we bridge this gap?
Brands can connect meaningfully with people in real time, in all of their micro-moments, by providing more information about their brands and products to influence consumer choices. While the internet has made a range of product data available to everyone, this useful information is often spread across so many different channels that consumers are often not aware of it, can’t find it, or distrust the source of information and ignore it.
Mobile applications have become an increasingly efficient self-service channel to satisfy the consumer appetite for more information and services. Add detailed and pinpointed product information to the mix and brands have the unique power to match marketing messages with signals of intent and context. The buying habits of individuals are somewhat fickle, but they are not impossible to influence.
Beauty retailer Sephora has been a leader in treating in-store mobile behaviour as a major opportunity. The retailer encourages in-store customers to scan products into its mobile app to receive product ratings, reviews and other key information. As well as brand-specific apps, smartphone apps acting as mobile product search engines are on the rise. For example, the Shping App enables anyone to scan a product’s barcode to learn what’s in it, where it’s from and if it’s authentic.
Shoppers who are rewarded and engaged in the research process shop more. Loyalty programs need to be personalised to a customer’s geography, preference, frequency and spend. According to Forrester Research, in a typical three-month period loyalty program members on average spend $42.33 more with retailers with physical stores than shoppers not in a loyalty program, and program members rate their customer experiences higher than non-members across most industries.
Omnichannel shoppers also spend more. According to MasterCard, customers who shop both online and in-store with a specific retailer buy 250 per cent more on average. Macy’s also discovered that its omnichannel shoppers are eight times more valuable than those who shop via a single channel.
Whether you’re a global brand or a local shop, you need to improve the omnichannel shopping experience. A growing number of consumers want a more personalised, relevant and consistent shopping experience across all channels. Creating rich and engaging experiences that connect you with shoppers will encourage them to come back again and again.
Gennady Volchek is the CEO of Shping.
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