In recent weeks we’ve entered a number of customer conversations about the future of the store.
However, we’ve yet to discuss the future of the brand and how a retail brand might redefine itself to win the shopper of the future.
Here’s the only thing you need to understand:
These days, the front door to the brand is found online.
Cross-Channel Influence on the Digital Shopper
Research over the past years into developed world shopper behavior shows that roughly two-thirds of Internet-connected shoppers begin their decision journeys online.
And this has enormous consequences for brick and mortar brands.
A recent survey of digital shopper behavior indicates that online ratings and reviews are the most important influence upon overall purchasing decisions; this preference was cited by 84 percent of respondents1, over friends and family (60 percent), store employees (22 percent), and all forms of advertising-marketing ranging from in-store display to social media.
In addition, such shoppers are more inclined to self-service and self-acquisition of product-price knowledge, and have ever-increasing expectations that life in the store should be similar to life on the Internet — faster, more convenient, with greater access to knowledge and limitless access to inventory.
The younger the shopper, the higher the digital influence in all forms just mentioned.
Which means a great deal when we pause for a moment and recognize that the nation’s largest demographic group, the always-connected millennials, has a purchasing power estimated to reach $2.5 trillion by 2020.2
The implications of these changes reach beyond the boundaries of the brick and mortar store. So how does the brand deliver its unique promise to customers in the new cross-channel reality? How, what, and where is decision-influencing content delivered across the eight screens of the new digital life?
The Brand-Customer Relationship Redefined
The big industry effort I strongly applaud is the enormous investment being made in omni-channel restructuring to get rid of the old e-commerce silos. This will lead to the merging of organizations, inventories, and critical repositories of customer and vendor data.
The hypothesis is that the future of retail lies in redefinition of the brand-shopper relationship. And that the path to that future — into which we’re investing both finances and our best minds — is all about deep, granular understanding of shopper behavior.
For more detail on our vision and plans, check back in this space. This is the fourth installment of a series on Retail & Tech. Click here to read Moving from Maintenance to Growth in Retail Technology, The Behavioral Shift Driving Change in the World of Retail, and Retailers Must Learn to Love the Digital Native.
Global Director, Retail Sales
This is the third and most recent installment of the Tech in Retail series.
To view more posts within the series click here: Tech & Finance Series
1 Merkle-Intel Digital Shopper Behavior Survey, 2014.
2 US Census Bureau, 2014.