There has been a noticeable change in the way we buy. While in the past we may have flipped through the pages of a magazine or browsed the shelves of a store for inspiration, today we are getting these great ideas from places that didn’t exist a few years ago, like Pinterest or blogs. Digital plays an important role in this shopping journey and it isn’t always about finding the best price.
This new paradigm isn’t really about the mundane purchases like groceries and household detergent, but more about complex purchases that involve personality, style and a sizeable investment, like apparel, electronics or home furnishing. Our changing consumer shopping habits which now involve digital in a totally new way are the evolving adaptation of a disruptive technology.
A recent report Navigating the Digital Divide: Capitalizing on digital influence in retail produced by Deloitte Digital does a great job exploring today’s consumers’ shopping journeys and the role of digital. In their report they demonstrate that in today’s retail world it is no longer about bridging distinct channels as we have seen with the rise of omni-channel, but rather it is a deeper consumer mind-set shift which leverages digital in an entirely new way. This means that retailers who are focusing on digital merely as a channel are missing the greater opportunity as digital radically affects in-store sales in a new and evolving way.
Deloitte Digital’s report states some interesting facts that may not be common knowledge. For example:
1/3 of consumers spend more when they use digital devices to help them shop
Consumers who use a digital device in-store convert at a 20% higher rate
30% of consumers today are less likely to shop for a cheaper deal online while in another store than a hear ago (“show-rooming”)
Digital influenced sales were a staggering $1.7 trillion in the US last year while eCommerce sales were $300 billion
These statistics reinforce the point that digital is a shopping enabler. Digital helps the consumer find inspiration, research brands, validate their choice and, ultimately, even make the purchase. Digital can be woven into either an eCommerce or an in-store experience and it is the consumer who will forge that purchase path.
What does this mean? It means that retailers must combine the best of the physical and digital experiences in a convenient and effect way that matter to the shopper. The increased volatility in retail market share demonstrates this unsettled dynamic and it is the more nimble and adaptive retailers who identify the shifting decision points along the consumer purchase path and aim to influence the shopper at these important moments.
But these important moments have been stolen from the retailers’ hegemonic grip and more influencers have emerged. I believe the rise of specialist marketplaces (example: https://www.etsy.com/), affiliate-based shopping portals (example: http://www.shopstyle.co.uk/), search engines, YouTubers and Bloggers is proof of this phenomenon. These new resources are influencing the shopper and, often times they add impact earlier in the customer journey.
To avoid the risk of becoming merely an inventory provider, retailers must find new ways to compete for a position in the consideration phase, which may mean reassessing their digital strategy and truly understanding their value proposition. Digital no longer means eCommerce, it is an important component of in-store sales as well.
Greta Paa-Kerner (@gretapk) is an Associate Lecturer on sales management and digital marketing as well as a Management Consultant through Ganduxer Consulting.