Retail is in a major state of flux. Every large Internet retailer wants to offer the lowest price and the largest selection. Large internet retailers like Amazonhave an advantage when consumers know exactly what they want.
Consumers rely on search and research when they know what type of product they are looking for, but do not know which product will specifically fulfill that need. Today’s savvy shoppers harness search, navigate sites, gather in-store advice, read product reviews, match prices, follow trends, leverage social media, and solicit advice from friends.
Retailers win when they have equal or more expertise than research-driven consumers.Brick and mortar retailers remain relevant because they offer human contact – guidance, advice and compassion.
In this setting, consumers shop confidently, personally curating from product selection, accessing expertise, and receiving immediate feedback. Retailers win when they own an area and become credible subject-matter experts. However, many retailers are spread thin and unable to assist customers, thus under-leveraging their point of differentiation.
Digital changes everything:
Digital is everywhere. Users are perpetually connected to information, data, friends, advice, prices, research, etc. Technology has empowered the user with all the tools necessary to shop for anything, anywhere, at anytime. Today’s consumers are literally one touch away from everything.
The store is no longer the destination, but simply another touch-point in the retail experience. Many purchases can be identified, researched, and ultimately made from anywhere. Personal shoppers are back in a big way, only now they sit on your desk or in your pocket, pushing real-time information on deals, promotions, and carefully selected merchandise. Furthermore, the consumers are enabled and encouraged to amplify the effect of the new personal shopper through social channels.
We have found that shopper break into clear behavioral segments:
- Shoppers who know what they want leverage information and selection to efficiently check off their shopping list, meet a value requirement, or both.
- Shoppers who know what they don’t want actively seek to un-complicate their lives. Their shopping needs are driven more by a lifestyle desire than a product desire: “I don’t want to spend time shopping. I don’t want to pay full-price.”
- Shoppers who don’t know what else they wantand have bought into the idea that someone else can make better decisions about what they specifically need.
One shopper can exist in any of these states depending on what they’re shopping for and their comfort in the category.
Most retailers have difficulty competing with the selection and prices of massive Internet retailers like Amazon. However, users become frustrated when presented with too many options and too much information — “I want a TV, but out of 2,000 choices, which one is for me?” Most consumers would prefer to manage a smaller amount of choices. It’s easier to comprehend 4 relevant choices vs. 2,000 random choices.
That is why retailers can provide tools to help translate consumer needs and how the product will be used to make recommendations based on price, needs and brand preferences.
The retail experience is often known as the moment of truth, and indeed, it can be a critical point of brand-consumer interaction – an art and science that combines message and product placement with an understanding of a consumer’s physical behavior as they interact with the retail environment.