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Understanding shoppers is essential in a shifting retail landscape
Greg Isbister
Greg Isbister
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The evolution of retail is both exciting and terrifying. As many retailers adjust their strategies to accommodate the needs of “always-on” shoppers, it seems that an equal number are shuttering their brick and mortar stores for good.

The media has been focused more on the darker aspects of the story – the thinning of the herd, as it were – but in truth, the news isn’t all bad. In fact, it is overwhelmingly positive. Ecommerce isn’t killing retail, it’s forcing it to adapt. Shoppers have been quick to adopt e-commerce and all the convenience that comes along with it, from 24/7 shopping to overnight delivery, and from product recommendations to user reviews. Retailers who have been watching closely and moving strategically to stay ahead of consumer expectations are thriving. The ones that resist – or that fail to move quickly and confidently – are the ones that don’t survive.

Retail is certainly changing, but there’s still time and opportunity for businesses to catch up and even get ahead. In our recent series of global retail studies, conducted with Sapio Research, we discovered that not only do people love to shop, they love going to actual stores to do it. The studies revealed that shopping is a pastime for consumers all over the world – 49% of respondents in Singapore say that shopping is a hobby, and 43% of participating Australians report that it makes them happy. Forty percent of EMEA shoppers find joy in shopping.

Shopping at a brick-and-mortar location is part of the journey for people everywhere, whether they begin shopping in-store or ultimately convert there. Regardless of the country they’re in, a visit to the store is a stop on nearly every path to purchase. Even better, consumers are willing to spend more when shopping in-store. Retailers should therefore make driving foot traffic a marketing priority.

It’s essential for retailers to understand shopper behaviour, and we’ve discovered that while some shoppers buy on impulse, the majority tend to be more calculated in their purchase. Most categorize themselves as either “Bargain Hunters” or “Savvy Shoppers,” and this indicates that there is a longer time spent considering purchases prior to completing them. This appears to be a global trend, and it gives marketers more opportunities to reach shoppers as they comparison shop and learn more about the products in their consideration set. Always-on shoppers are exposed to and influenced by various media channels along their journey. To illustrate, here are some highlights from our #RealRetail research:

  • 48% of Australian shoppers cite a store being too crowded as one of two main causes of abandoning a physical store with 47% citing the inability to find the right item as the second cause.
  • 63% of Singaporean shoppers surveyed admit they have spent time looking for items in a store before purchasing online.
  • 63% of all EMEA shoppers use their mobile when shopping, typically to hunt for better deals.
  • 37% of Australian impulse buyers say that after seeing an ad on their mobile phone whilst outdoors, they then walked to the nearest store to look for relevant products. Eighty-one percent of those shoppers purchased the respective product as a result of the ad.
  • 28% of Singaporean respondents were influenced to shop in-store after seeing an advert on their mobile or desktop.

Although the behaviours are different from country to country and region to region, people still enjoy shopping, both online and offline. The buyers’ journeys vary, but each includes touchpoints on desktop, on mobiles, in the store and out of home. Brick and mortar still plays an important role, and for many retailers, success lies in finding the right motivation for customers to come to the store to shop in-person.

For EMEA retailers in particular, OOH marketing strategies can be used as a qualifying touchpoint. Real-world intelligence enables marketers to retarget consumers that have been in proximity of OOH ads. Using mobile, retailers can then deliver offers as well reinforce their brand message. Real-world intelligence can then help marketers determine which OOH sites are most effective at driving store visits.

Additionally, 33% of EMEA respondents were influenced to shop in-store after seeing an ad on their mobile or desktop, proving that digital adverts can also have a measurable impact on store visits. Tailoring ads to the right consumer at a particular time will maximise results, whether it tips the scale for a shopper on the cusp of making a purchase or an impulse buyer who wasn’t specifically looking.

At the same time, retail marketers should consider ways to bring the best features of their in-store and online experiences into their mobile apps and websites to create a more seamless and engaging touchpoint along the shopper’s journey, according to another recent Blis white paper. Not every shopper engages at every touchpoint or every channel on their path to purchase. The route from “want” to “have” is becoming more bespoke as shoppers discover their own way to purchase the items they desire. The good news here is that consumers who shop across multiple channels spend 30% more per purchase, so accommodating them along their journey is well worth the effort.

For retailers, data remains the key to continued growth. Understanding who customers are and what they expect is essential for developing an omnichannel strategy that starts and ends with the shopper. Real-world insights culled from location data can help marketers gain a deeper understanding of the kind of experiences their best customers want. The right combination of insights will create a map for a flourishing business – even at this time of rapid evolution.

Like what you read? Please check out our related white papers below:
The #RealRetail Story: Evolving shopping behaviour in Australia
The #RealRetail Story: Evolving shopping behaviour in Singapore
The #RealRetail Story: Evolving shopping behaviour in EMEA
Omnichannel Consumers Treading New Paths to Purchase (US)

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Greg Isbister

Greg Isbister

CEO | Blis Greg Isbister founded Blis Media Limited in 2004 and also serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Greg oversees Blis' global business. This includes the management of technical engineering, product strategy, financial management, talent acquisition and international market expansion.