11 Nov New realities for retailers in a digital world
Over the past decade, the retail landscape has changed dramatically. First, the economic recession, causing consumers to have considerably tighter purse strings, followed by a period of fast innovation, putting a smartphone into the hands of the vast majority of consumers in the UK. It is this revolution, and the way technology is affecting the retail industry, that we wanted to explore in further detail.
New research into the Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping, from Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands, commissioned by Google, highlights three key trends that are affecting the retail industry in a digital world;
Digital interaction drives in-store traffic
Smartphones are in-store shopping assistants for consumers
Varied shopping habits call for a holistic approach for retail success.
Evidence from the research suggests that consumers now visit stores for more than just a purchase, and their expectations of retailers are much higher than before. Many retailers have now recognised the importance of having a strong, online presence, offering an informative and customised experience, but this doesn’t often translate into the same experience consumers receive in store.
In a recent Think with Google blog post, Sameer Samat, VP Product Management at Google, discusses the importance for retailers to think of blending their digital presence with their physical stores.
“Brands such as Macy’s and Sephora are leading the way on this front. They’re offering in-store pickup for items bought online, supporting home delivery of products purchased in-store and showing product availability at nearby stores in search results. These strategies not only create a better experience for shoppers, but they also boost the bottom line.”
Foot traffic has always mattered most to local retailers, but the way it’s achieved is changing fast. On-the-go consumers now spend more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones. The research suggests that the consumer path to purchase is becoming increasingly mobile, and retailers that provide relevant, local information via search and online presence (mobile app and site) will increase both reach and engagement. The reality is that consumers are using smartphones and digital media to make the purchasing process easier, but in-store associates are lacking in this area, often not equipped with the right technology or data to provide consumers with the instant information they require. The research shows that shoppers are increasingly frustrated by the lack of in-store information, and two-thirds of those surveyed said they couldn’t find the details they needed while visiting a store. Instead, shoppers are turning to their smartphones whilst within a store to search on the retailers website or app to find what they need.
What retailers really need to harness is the opportunity to control the information consumers are accessing in store. The study shows that 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in-store, and 64% of those are using search engines. This leaves a gap for your consumer to be attracted by a competitor, who may be offering more information or alternatives that are accessible or better value. By providing mobile devices in your store, either as kiosks or in the hands of your retail associates, it narrows the information the consumer can search but puts content immediately in their hands, increasing the chances of a transaction in store. Evidence from the study shows that one in three shoppers actually prefer to use a smartphone or mobile device to find additional information, rather than ask a store employee for help and this change in consumer behavior is creating dramatic new realities in the world of retail.
The bridge between digital traffic and foot traffic has become a competitive necessity in retail. The retailers who embrace these new realities and are able to connect with their customers seamlessly, will be the retailers that win. It’s those on-the-go connections that are the future of shopping.
Google is helping to empower retailers to work in a way that will not only empower store associates, but that can help to contribute to the bottom line. The first step is to provide your retail business with the technology it needs to be able to work in a more collaborative way. With Chromebooks or mobile tablets, you can instantly give your retail associates access to online tools which can be shared with your consumers. Not only this, but you can help to satisfy the needs of your employees by making them feel more connected and in a position to do their job more effectively.
With the addition of Google Apps for Work, retailers can create a shared environment in the cloud that can be accessed by anyone at any time. Information on stock inventory, latest discounts, store locations, working hours and more can be saved on Google Drive, allowing access to the right people to help them get their job done. Retail companies such as All Saints, Woolworths, CeX and more are harnessing the power of Google to help them work better both internally and externally.
Consumer demand in digital technology to drive purchasing decisions has caused a huge shift in the retail industry, and will only be won by those retailers who recognise the need to undergo a full digital transformation throughout the whole of the organisation in order to provide consumers with the digital presence they require in store.
For more information or to arrange a discussion with AppsCare about how we can help you to transform your retail business, please contact us on +44 (0) 113 366 2008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
View the infographic here.