Daily Dose of iQ: Three Traits of the 'Changing Face' of Retail

Jan 23, 2015 — Allan Pulga

Last fall, McCann's Karl Bates identified three ways consumer behavior is altering the retail industry.

Bates, the National Planning Director for McCann Australia, wrote, "As our recent Truth About Shopping global study shows, traditional retailers who have innovatively evolved their offerings to embrace digital technologies are more popular with their customers than ever."

How to keep the art of shopping alive in the age of algorithms?

The three highlights from that study are as follows:

1. Technology has increased the frequency of shopping, and taken away the ‘occasion.’ Bates argues that up until 10 years ago, shopping was a special occasion. Technology has taken away some of that magic. "Shopping is becoming a lot less emotional and a lot more technical," he writes.

"The question for retailers and brands is how do we keep the art of shopping alive in the age of algorithms?"

Bates suggests using technology in a physical sense, to inspire shoppers and deliver a unique, memorable in-store experience "that reignites the romance of shopping." Some examples:
- Marks & Spencer is trialling a virtual rail in its Amsterdam store, where customers can use a lifesize touchscreen to swipe through the catalog and see what outfits would look like on them. The screen also recommends items shoppers may like, based on their selections.
- Earlier this year, Debenhams unveiled a tech-heavy £25m flagship store in London’s Oxford Street, complete with video screens and kiosks for in-store ordering.
- Nordstrom in the U.S. flags its stocked items “pinned” the most on Pinterest.

Burberry lets customers order items directly from a fashion show video on their smartphones.

2. The age of personalization may anticipate what shoppers want but may quash our sense of discovery. E-commerce has made shopping increasingly personalized and predictive, but Bates suggests that, too, takes away from the magic and randomness of discovering something you'd like to buy.

"Burberry (launched) a Runway Made to Order personalisation service, allowing customers to order items directly off the runway – while watching the show on their smartphone – and to personalize them by adding their initials.

"The brand has also embedded digital tags in its clothes and accessories, which customers can scan on the phone while in-store to watch a short film about how that particular item was made."

Smart brands understand part of the magic of shopping comes from a human connection.

3. Enhancing the social experience that often accompanies shopping. Seeing a group of teenagers at the mall is an obvious reminder that shopping can be enjoyable as a social activity, not "social" in the sense of Facebook or Twitter.

"The smart brands understand that part of the magic of shopping comes from that human connection, and are leveraging natural social behaviours within their technology," Bates writes.

"PS Department connects customers with personalized shoppers who respond to requests via its app. And many brands are finding novel ways of incentivising consumers through the lens of social, whether that’s networks encouraging friendship groups to sign up together or the grocery market Carrefour offering special discounts to families with more than five members."

Topics: Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce, Retail Marketing

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