Online shopping

How Businesses Can Adapt

Today’s shoppers have become accustomed to doing their own research to get the maximum value out of every dollar they spend, and to feel secure about the purchases they’re making. With this power shift comes a great opportunity for retailers; those that use tools and insights from the web have the opportunity to close the gap between the smart online consumer and the offline retailer, and to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Every moment in a consumer’s decision journey matters. To win these moments, smart retailers need to be there when inspiration strikes consumers and as they start researching purchases online.

In our constantly connected world, a device is just a proxy for what really matters — getting to know your customers. Devices provide context, helping us learn what matters to a consumer in a particular location and at a particular time. Coupled with the intent provided by search, this is incredibly powerful. It can help retailers deliver relevant suggestions, essentially recreating those shopkeeper conversations at scale. The right message at the right moment is the next level in customer service — it can quickly and easily turn intent into action.

Context also allows retailers to better than ever anticipate what a customer might need based on when, where and how they arrive at their site and help them decide how to respond to them. People are constantly looking for product information, deals, local availability and local discounts online — and retailers who aren’t there to supply the right information when people raise their virtual hand will lose out.

As the lines blur between online and offline, innovative retailers are integrating mobile into their brick-and-mortar store experience. When shoppers search for a store name or category, they expect to see a map with directions, a phone number that they can easily click-to-call, or special offers that match their location and time of day. Adidas worked with their agency iProspect to evaluate how mobile clicks on their store locator links were driving in-store sales, and found that for a mobile investment of $1 million, the value brought by store locator clicks in mobile ads generated an extra $1.6 million in sales.

This is truer than ever. With YouTube and social networks like G+, people are now sharing their opinion on products not just with a group of friends, but with millions of people. This is why Google Shopping incorporates reviews and introduced shortlists to make it easy for people to discuss products and purchases with friends and family. Smart retailers are recognizing the opportunities that lie in digital where instead of basing campaigns on the broadest reach possible they can now zero in and speak directly with the individuals, or communities of fans, who love their products most. Retailers are also seizing the opportunities around online comments by advertising against terms like “reviews” and working to promote the positive and counteract the negative.

As digital weaves itself deeper into the fabric of our lives, smart retailers understand making the most of new opportunities is not about gadgets or technology. It’s about human nature. Forward-thinking retailers should be looking at how they are interweaving digital tools like mobile, context, and video with sales, marketing and customer service. When these things are used well, the technology becomes invisible. Customers simply see retailers as being very good at giving them exactly what they want.

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