By: Derya Lawrence, Senior Analyst – Services and Payments at Euromonitor International
Omnishopper International took place in London in late November 2016, and addressed the issues impacting the rapidly evolving retailing landscape from the perspectives of consumers, manufacturers and retailers. This three day event brought together some of the largest manufacturers in packaged food, electronics and personal care, alongside grocery and non-grocery retailers and market research providers, discussing primarily the ways in which commerce is evolving, and providing practical examples of new methods of information collection that is made possible through technological developments required to stay ahead of the curve.
Here are four key insights from Omnishopper International 2016:
Strategising for the omnishoppers
Commerce is no longer restricted to a physical outlet. There are now a plethora of commerce facilitators, from computers to smartphones to consumer appliances to connected cars, all enabling new ways of shopping and paying. It is important to continuously track and monitor shopping patterns across the online/offline split to understand how, holistically, both channels are two sides of the same coin: Shoppers routinely search online and buy in-store. If they see a better offer at a competitor, or find a unique proposition at a different banner, they will take their money there. Because of this dynamic interaction, one of the largest problems for retailers today is the increase in consumers’ switching between channels and banners. Thus, in order to acquire new clients, the omnichannel strategy has to be built around fostering loyalty, through providing a new and better shopping experience both in store and online.
In this mobile-first world, the possibilities in terms of connecting with the consumer before, during and after a purchase are endless, though few retailers and manufacturers do it in a seamless manner. Merchants of all types express a desire to better connect those dots in order to further other initiatives, such as providing more meaningful consumer engagement. One highlight in this respect is the arrival of Virtual Reality technology. VR can not only drive marketing strategies, but can be used as a tool for consumer engagement for market research purposes.
Traditional research techniques, such as consumer panels and surveys, have allowed for the collection of strong insight on the impact of advertising or strategy on growth in specific product groups. Yet, knowledge on where the market will be growing - and therefore where the manufacturer should invest its time and money - can be better understood through embracing new digital means and putting the consumers themselves in the driving seat. On this note, one of the leading global chocolate manufacturers shared their insights on how Online Surveys and Communities are helping them enhance outcomes of marketing campaigns and impulse purchases by allowing consumers to inform the manufacturers on what products work for them, when they are more likely to consume certain goods or how likely they are to make a purchase based on where the product is exhibited on the shelves.
Understanding consumer behaviour
New digital technologies allow for the advent of an increasing number of ways to create more convenient shopping experiences for consumers. Connected appliances, proliferation of mobile payment methods and a rapid move towards the internet of things are all altering consumer’s in-store experiences and expectations. Omnishopper International posed questions and answers on how this evolution impacts shopping behaviour. If shoppers’ desire for the most time efficient and convenient experience takes them both to online and offline channels for different reasons, it is vital to track this behavioural rationale and gather data for both online and offline to meet changing client expectations.
Once we have an understanding of the purchasing habits of consumers between online and offline, an important question is how retailers can intervene in consumer decision making in order to align consumer behaviour with retailing strategies. For this step, we are told that the field of Behavioural Economics - led by the likes of Daniel Kahnemann – that looks at non-rational forces and implicit biases that condition human choices, is starting to make inroads on marketing and consumer research. Through this key insight on how and why shoppers interact in the way they do in a multi-channel environment, understanding the hidden drivers of purchasing behaviours, retailers can locate the Pivotal Moments where they can make a significant and meaningful impact on consumers’ purchasing choices.
Future of retail
Due to the impact of technology, 21st century consumers are increasingly knowledgeable about what they want and what is on offer. The blurring of sales channels has contributed greatly to this as shoppers are able to navigate across the online/offline divide to find the best product for them along the price/quality spectrum. Now more than ever, from quality of products to pricing, smart shoppers are more aware and are therefore increasingly purchasing with higher expectations from retailers and manufacturers. With the availability of more information, consumers are also increasingly less loyal. In this context, the saying, ‘the successful retailer is the one that understands what the client wants next’ is truer than ever.