I was asked to reflect on some of the key trends that have influenced consumers and retailers alike throughout 2011. I came up with the following, so I thought I’d share this with you. Let me know if you agree, disagree, or have anything to add!
Access to the internet on the move has caused a step-change in retailer – consumer engagement
The major changes in consumer habits this year have been underpinned by the increased uptake of smartphones and access to the internet on the move. Stats in the UK show that over 60% of consumers research online before they transact in store, what’s interesting is that this online research can now take place within the store where the subsequent transaction takes place (or not) as a result of such things as:
- Checking prices / promotions / offers / vouchers
- Checking online review content relating to the item
There is a continuing trend to purchases being influenced by the consumer’s own social network as the peer-peer review and recommendation becomes a greater factor in brand loyalty than the brand’s own outbound marketing messages.
Bricks and Mortar retailing IS of critical importance to the multi-channel mix!
The reality of the multi-channel shopping experience has also arrived. Reports elude to sales from bricks and mortar having “dropped off”. The internet / mobile web are accused of damaging the high street due to continued growth and “dominance”. This isn’t entirely accurate…. research has proven that those customers who can engage with multiple channels during their purchasing decision making process are worth 130% of the value of a single channel customer. This statistic seems borne out by the fact that over 10% of UK online sales are now completed for instore collection. Don’t say bricks and mortar don’t count – high street and instore based retail absolutely has a role to play!
What should retailers focus on in 2012?
So into 2012 it’s clear that retailers need to focus on the following key messages:
- Compete on service, not on price – avoid becoming commoditised
- Engage your loyal customers and building true brand advocates to recommend and refer your brand to their social network
- Ensure your operation is truly an integrated multi-channel experience and NOT a series of multiple, disconnected channels
- Leverage the increased uptake of technology, specifically smartphones, to ensure your customer gets an engaging, interactive and immediate experience.
I wish you every success in 2012!