Leaving aside for a moment the question of mobile website versus mobile app, the mobile phone as a both a shopping and purchasing device is continuing its surge in popularity. According to this year’s survey, while in-store shopping is still most popular with weekly and daily shoppers, the frequency of mobile shopping has now overtaken tablet shopping by some measurements and is within striking distance of shopping via the PC.
Today, for better or worse, relevance is based on digital and technology savvy. Store associates, corporate staff and the C-suite need to mirror the consumer—if a retailer is not versed in social and digital, it is not relevant or attractive to young, savvy customers nor prospective employees.
Big data insights
Huge gaps exist today in the data retailers possess and their ability to glean insights from it. From customer store visits, to store and warehouse inventory, to how long shoppers spend on retailer websites, retailers are held back by the yawning chasm separating the data collected and what is done with that data.
Amazon has set many new standards in retail through its creativity and seemingly never-ending streak of disruptive innovations to make shopping—and life—easier, more convenient, and more fun. Retailers are figuring out how to stay competitive given Amazon’s appeal to shoppers.
Telling the brand story
A retailer’s website—according to this year’s survey the number two online source for inspiring purchases—should be consistent with and connected to the company’s social media to complement the brand story, provide a coherent brand experience, and make conversion of social media leads easy. After all, a retailer’s website serves as both marketing vehicle and online store, and deserves at least equal attention as the overall social media strategy.
Providing secure platforms for any touch point with customers is a must. Given the scale of the potential risk, secure technology and data systems need to be a C-level concern, and there should be a budget allocated to enhanced security systems, maintenance and updates.
Since customers seem apt to be brand loyal, reinforcing this loyalty by investing in uniquely appealing brand features—such as customized offers and special access to deals—could pay big dividends.
While the store is not going away anytime soon, its purpose is evolving. There is compelling evidence that people want the physical experience of trying things, but aren’t that happy with aspects of the in-store customer experience. One solution could be for retailers to invest in showrooms: physical locations that are designed not to push product, but instead to entice consumers with all of those amenities they want from the store. The biggest difference between a showroom and a traditional physical store is that a showroom’s sole purpose is to showcase—not sell—products.
Authenticity of branded goods is a huge issue for retailers, particularly for products made and sold in developing markets or whose supply chains wend through developing markets.
Health and wellness
While consumers love the convenience of online shopping versus trips to the physical store, any kind of retail seems convenient and customer-centric when compared to the often Byzantine health care purchasing system. For that and reasons related to cost, retailers have emerged in the past decade as new entrants into the ranks of non-traditional health care providers.