However you define it — the path, the journey, the purchase-decision hierarchy — the way we shop is changing, and Retailers need to be on top of evolving shopper behaviours and change accordingly.
In Q1 2018, 6000 people were surveyed across six countries: Canada; US; UK; Australia; France; and Germany, and their responses were recently released in Strategy’s Shopper-First Retailing Report. (All stats in this post is in reference to this Report). Canada ranked second highest in shoppers beginning their purchase journey with a Google search at 49% (behind only Australia, at 61%). Astoundingly, 86% of Canadian respondents said they begin all of their shopping via digital channels, versus 13% who begin in-store and just 1% who use a magazine or catalogue. Meanwhile, only 5% of Canadian respondents claim to begin their shopping journey instigated by social media or messaging apps such as Facebook and Pinterest, and this was the lowest percentage among the six countries surveyed.
So today’s path to purchase is a mixed approach, with Google Search leading the way (and the obvious first target for Retailers and Goods Manufacturers looking to harness all parts of the shopper touchpoint consideration set). That may mean adopting new SEO tactics or ensuring websites stay refreshed and relevant for the right kind of landing, but regardless, a strong Search strategy is key!
The sentiment of “newly-refreshed” is an important one, and here’s why:
In Canada, 69% of respondents said it’s important or very important to them to see new merchandise each time they visit a store (yes they do go to stores) or during their commerce website visits. While merchandising agility has become the “gold standard” of the Retail industry, the Shopper-First Retailing Report notes that “making it fresh” doesn’t necessarily translate to “fast fashion”, rather “it’s about profitably transforming the digital and physical shopping experiences to constantly surface what’s new and relevant.”
The pressure is on in the consumer-preferences game, with Amazon currently winning on all fronts: price, product, variety, availability, innovation and uniqueness. But even the mighty Amazon lacks the tried-and-true analogue experience (they do dabble with the Amazon Go concept, but that’s currently an experimental convenience play). 46% of all shoppers surveyed still prefer to buy in a physical store, compared with 35% who prefer to shop using laptops and 18% who use their smartphones to begin their path to purchase. This mobile usage continues to grow (up 17% year-over-year), with traffic from mobile devices accounting for 62% of website traffic during the second quarter of 2018.
So what should a brick and mortar do?
What’s really interesting is that 71% of surveyed shoppers say they now use their mobile devices instore, up from 62% in 2017. This isn’t news as phones have long been a part of shopping but we do not see Retailers optimizing this new behaviour as they re-invent their physical retail spaces — leveraging mobile instore just doesn’t seem to be on the retail radar. If you look hard enough you can see some testing by innovative Retailers like Kroger, but no one has rolled out a true strategy.
So if Shoppers are more than willing to explore retail using their phones and are engaging more and more in mobile-oriented activities like loyalty programs, beacon push ads, etc, The Central Group recommends that Retailers take a closer look at the opportunity — whether it’s using displays to provide savings to shoppers or enhance instore navigation through mobile devices, the mobile trend is here to stay and ready for retail adoption and innovation.