Strategies to keep up with today’s omnichannel shopper

online, shopping, e-commerce, keyboardWith a world of information at their fingertips, consumers have ample opportunity to gather information about your products and engage with your brand, or your competitor’s, before they even consider making a purchase.

Consumers are more connected, educated and empowered than ever before, so its up to  brands and retailers to come up with new strategies to keep up with this evaluative and inquisitive shopper. By innovating and adapting, brands and retailers can remain relevant, but those who don’t, will be left behind.

The disparity between these two groups is set to widen further, with IRI estimating online sales in Australia to be worth about $3 billion this year across the grocery, liquor and pharmacy channels, having grown 10 – 15 times faster than their respective total channel sales.

While 96 per cent of CPG sales are still taking place within the physical store, online will impact 77 per cent of all retail sales this year. This suggests that online’s relatively small share of sales does not negate the importance that digital plays in supporting businesses to disrupt their respective markets. To do this, there are three key steps to follow:

Upgrade your online experience with best-in-class content

Creating a frictionless online experience is key to building any brand whether on the brand website, retailer sites, or any other site that the brand appears on, such as social media.

Brand Websites can enhance product messaging and drive engagement by bringing consumers on a journey. This can be done through alternative ideas for product use, recipes or suggestions of other complementary products from the portfolio. Brands can also incentivise and direct their consumers to leave reviews on retailer sites too. Ultimately, the brand website should not just be an information destination but should also galvanise the loyalty of the consumer by embedding the product further into their life.

Retailer Websites should be more than just a catalogue or an overview of products. With two in three Australians learning about new products online before purchasing, brands and retailers should take the opportunity to create an information destination with quality content that not just integrates and articulates the brand’s messaging, but also inspires consumers. Best-in-class content should include five key elements: Title and bullet points; product description; enhanced marketing content; multiple images; reviews.

Social Media The role and importance of social media in the digital path to purchase for any brand has grown considerably over the past few years. Research by Wolfgang Digital shows that consumers are twice as likely to convert to a sale on social media, compared to those who engage through a brand’s website. When considering the average conversion rate is two per cent, this means that social media conversion rates sit at about four per cent. It is important to note however, that while social media makes it easier to drive followers to make a purchase, it does not supersede the primary purpose of the platform – facilitating product discovery and driving brand awareness.

Optimise the click-and-collect experience

Click-and-collect is a favoured option for many with IRI surveys revealing these consumers want to save time by avoiding crowded store aisles and register lines and save money by cutting out shipping and delivery fees. Australian retailers are taking note and continuing to invest in this purchasing method, but brand and retail strategies need to be put in place to support the service. Click-and-collect allows the shopper to check-in to a specific location and view the assortment and availability of the store. In fact, one in three Australians currently use online location-based services to check in to physical locations when shopping. Therefore, strategies should be put in place to ensure assortment and stock levels match the information online, as the shopper may opt to make the purchase in-store instead.

Create a seamless omni-channel experience

For a brand to succeed, integrating the previous two steps within the rest of the operations of the business is key. Even if e-commerce has a specific team who focuses on digital operations, this must not be a silo to the other bricks-and-mortar teams. When these are not in sync the cracks start to show. In theory, it is much easier to update virtual offerings than it is to update physical structures, so it’s no surprise that digital innovation moves faster than physical. Failure to integrate these can result in a fragmented retail landscape and brand messaging that leaves the shopper frustrated. Both aspects of the business should be aligned and moving at a similar pace in order to have “connected commerce” teams and a unified brand.

The evaluative and inquisitive shopper demands that brands and retailers review and adapt their strategies to stay one step ahead. This Consumer Buying Revolution that brands and retailers find themselves in, poses either an opportunity or a risk. Brands who are agile, making decisions and taking definitive action will reap the rewards. Those who continue to hesitate and simply observe trends without identifying next steps, will find themselves losing relevance and ground, in fast-paced market conditions.

Ruth Butler, E-commerce Development Partner, IRI.

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