The shopping behavior and cycle continues to evolve as we come into a new year. Consumers will start their shopping process online and use different mediums to be immersed in a digital retail shopping experience. It is up to retailers to adapt to these new behaviors and mold their shopping experience to fit the consumers of today. CNN reports that store closings this year are already outpacing 2008, the worst year on record. So you would think that brick-and-mortars are dead…But why then would Amazon, an online retailer, start opening storefronts? We know retail goes through a transformation every 50 or so years. Department stores were opened to fulfill urban center needs and shopping centers were created to fit the automobile era. People would go to the mall and eye-shop a variety of stores before choosing what to buy. We’re going through that process again with digital retail and consumer behavior is shifting with it.
Trends of Digital Retail
Why has the buying process changed? What has created these new consumer habits? If you look at the world around you now, phones have had a huge impact. Consumers can shop thousands of stores in a matter of minutes in the palm of their hands. They can compare products between hundreds of brands and find the best deals. Brand loyalty is more difficult to earn with the access of endless information and the convenience to view whatever you want instantly. What has changed is that people can buy what they need while they wait for their dry cleaning. With this in mind, consumer experience can no longer stick to what’s inside the store, but about the brand all around, in-store and online. We’ve touched on this in a previous blog post, which you can read here: http://portal.rminno.com/2017/10/24/brick-mortar-e-commerce-answer/
When retailers choose not to adapt to the digital retail age, that’s when you’ll see retailers closing up shop. Sears, for example, didn’t adapt and take advantage of technology or the new buying process. Across the world now, technology has made it easier for a consumer to build a proactive relationship and retailers need to adapt to that.
Creating the Digital Consumer Experience
The store’s floor plan was traditionally built on how customers would walk through to browse, then they’d make a purchase at the convenience of where items and registers were. Now, customers go to the store to browse, get advice or talk to associates, then they go home to purchase online when they’re ready. Retailers invest in the physical locations and die out because customers can compare and find better prices on the phone while in-store. When customers can make purchases anywhere, retailers need to embrace the showroom tactic rather than shun it. Customers come to stores still for the on-hand experience with the product and to engage with the brand , or in this case, store owners. Retailers need to provide customers with what they want tin the showroom to submerge a customer in the product and brand.
When a customer has buying intent, they go through this process: First, they seek out relevant information regarding their purchase. Then they choose how far and to what extent they’ll go in searching for information. This means they can start and stop at any time they please. A good website will allow the customer to do so without slack or difficulty. Once a customer has gathered enough information from their sources and solved their questions concerning the product or service, they’ll buy. At each of these steps, retailers need to be visible. Retailers now need to be in the business of helping customers purchase.
When a customer is looking for information about a product, immerse them with knowledge to help compare to other products or services. That builds your relationship and creates empathy for your brand. Suggest to customers what works and what doesn’t with your products. Maybe an infographic or a series of videos can boost your product/service relevancy. Give customers time to digest and learn about their needs. When they realize their problem, you can come in to save the day. It’s all about building a relationship and connecting with consumers every step of the way.