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Conquering the Connected Shopper and their multiple paths to purchase

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Conquering today’s connected shopper is a battle. Consumers’ expectations of convenience, choice, price and experience are continually escalating.

Whatever you make or sell, the true power rests in the palm of shoppers’ hands. The “always-on” culture of connectivity puts both manufacturers and retailers under intense pressure to stay relevant and create “fans for life”. This is a cut-throat, slim profit environment that is further endangered by emerging hyper-competition from global marketplaces. Conversion is more key than ever.

No retailer or manufacturer has a free pass to success. No existing business models are guaranteed. For instance, in the recent past, the generalists and the manufacturers that supplied them were all-powerful. Today, specialists and global market places like Amazon are squeezing the generalist model. Clearly, whatever the sector, whatever the scale or geography, all players must constantly re-evaluate their strategies and tactics to ensure they win the connected shopper’s business. It is essential to constantly be on top of your shopper by focusing on the right touchpoints at the right moment throughout the whole omnichannel path to purchase.

So, if you’re serious about conquering the connected shopper, you must understand today’s retail environment and anticipate tomorrow’s trends to plan and prepare for the future.

The connected retail transformation: Two very different routes to purchase

Retail is transforming to keep pace with the connected shopper and their demands. We believe that in the future, shopping will either be functional, rational and efficient, or it will need to offer an emotional connection or be an experience.

Our two future scenarios for retail in the connected world are rooted in our extensive knowledge gained from researching consumers. What is common to them all is that the shopper is front and center, and has more control than ever before of how they shop and what they buy.

One: Staying in

Here the smart home of the future takes over the functional aspects of shopping, ordering and replenishing supplies as they run out.

Never fear, this won’t disengage shoppers from brands, as virtual and augmented reality will come to the rescue. For fun, connected shoppers will be able to try on clothes, trial appliances and test drive cars – all from the comfort of their home.

Two: Going out

If you leave the comfort of your home to shop, there will be two very different options. On the one hand, much shopping will become uber-convenient, super-fast and easy with in-store GPS navigation, pick up points, automated payments (no queues) and minimal browsing. Mobile phones will have a key role to play, becoming hand-held shopping trip assistants. On the other, retailers will offer experiences, where shopping will be seamlessly integrated into socializing and entertainment. The smartphone will be the connector of the personalized digital and physical retail world, for chatting, browsing, sharing experiences and paying.

Whether shopping from the home or when out and about, manufacturers will increasingly focus on their own omnichannel retail concepts. They will want to get closer to their shoppers and find personalization-driven business models where this can deliver a profit.

Getting up close and personal with the connected shopper

There is no one “connected shopper”, every consumer and every purchase is unique. For a 360° perspective, you need to evaluate the key target audience segments in detail. How do they behave, what are their need states, how can you meet their expectations? From Gen X, Y and Z to iBrains, Millennials and Baby Boomers, we’ll help you identify and reach your audience with the relevant product, service and experience at the right point in their purchase journey. With more consumers than ever saying they feel overwhelmed by choice, understanding and helping shoppers find the products they really want will become a core tenet of the successful retailer. Relevance and persuasion will become more important as key success factors. As a result, many retail marketing budgets are shifting to content and attribution marketing to be closer to the shopper during the moments that matter. The focus will be less on where the purchase happens, and much more on how you can influence it.

Having an in-depth customer understanding is essential if you are to offer shoppers the all-important personalized product or service, such as H&M’s customized dress designed with Google. And it’s most definitely key if you want to anticipate their needs to increase their basket size and grow loyalty.

Reinventing business models

Achieving a profit requires a laser-like focus on logistics and operations, constant innovation, relevant marketing, perfect customer service, excellent customer and market intelligence… the list is infinite. By focusing on the connected shopper and building a true picture of buyers of all sorts of products and services, you can identify the business models that give you the best chance of success in the retail transformation.

Marco Wolters is Global Industry Lead Fashion, Home & Lifestyle at GfK. He can be reached at Marco.Wolters@gfk.com.

Our 5 principles on how to triumph in  today's transforming retail landscape

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