Tag: retailers

Infographic – The Digital Shelf at a Glance

The Digital Shelf at a Glance | Contentserv

The digital shelf levels the playing field for brands, even for new entrants and those that don’t have strategic placements in brick-and-mortar shelves. When used together with accurate, complete, rich and up-to-date content, the digital shelf helps brands to connect with shoppers in a more personal and meaningful way.

This means that brands must take the digital shelf seriously, here’s why:

[infographic] The Digital Shelf at a Glance

Consumers are increasingly researching, discovering and purchasing products online — across channels and devices, at any time. Instead of physical aisles, shoppers navigate the digital shelves or search results to find, compare and buy products. Therefore, to succeed, you must ensure that your products shine and have a prominent place on the digital shelf.

 

Three Ways Experience-Driven Commerce is Changing Online Shopping

Contentserv Blog | 3 Ways Experience-Driven Commerce Is Changing Online Shopping

“Experience-driven commerce is the future of commerce,” said Adobe’s Executive Vice President, Brad Rencher1 in 2018. It had been two years since an experience-driven commerce future was first predicted, and because the right circumstances took place, it is safe to say that experience-driven commerce is happening now.

E-Commerce has completely transformed how consumers shop and how businesses operate. So, is experience-driven commerce really the next big thing for commerce? And how is it changing the online shopping experiences of consumers?

Experience-driven commerce, defined

According to Adobe2, “Experience-driven commerce = Maximizing sales by delivering customer experiences from discovery to purchase that are optimized with insights from real-time shopping behaviors and multichannel data.”

Specifically, experience-driven commerce is:

  • Customer-centric – presenting products in a way that resonate with what consumers are looking for
  • Omnichannel – meeting shoppers and their needs across all channels
  • Relevant product content – providing shoppers accurate, rich, complete and up-to-date product content

Experience-driven commerce trumps traditional commerce since today’s consumers are savvy enough to know and get what they want. They seek personalized experiences, connection and engagement. This means businesses need to develop experience-driven commerce strategies if they want to remain relevant and competitive.

Experience-driven commerce, the essentials

The shift to experience-driven commerce is fueled by:

The age of consumers. Millennials are currently the largest consumer group3, and Gen Z, the pickier and savvier version of Millennials, is not far behind. These current and soon-to-be consumers grew up with digital conveniences at their fingertips – and they only recognize brands that are accessible and personal.

Brands must be customer centric. Brands cannot expect these new breeds of consumers to accept everything they provide. Thus, brands need to find a way to know their customers — their needs, preferences, where they are and how they shop. The foundation to understanding this consumer behavior begins with data. Therefore, brands must harness the power of data if they want to deliver experiences tailored to the needs of these consumers.

Constant connectivity. 53% of the global population is connected to the internet4, and it is a number that is still growing as devices become more affordable. It is also estimated that an average person owns and will use at least 154 connected devices by 20304. Most consumers can therefore easily reach for any of these devices to research a product or service they need, complete a purchase, and share their experience, good or bad, online. This means that with a few swipes, consumers can make or break a brand.

Brands must be omnichannel. Today’s consumers expect to have access to what they want when they want it. To remain competitive and relevant, brands must employ a strategy that delivers a seamless experience across all platforms – desktop, laptop, mobile phones, tablets and in-store.

Personalization. Most shoppers are willing to share personal information as long as they get personalized experiences in return. In fact, 61% are willing to share private information to ensure brands understand their needs5. Furthermore, offering personalized shopping experiences are necessary for brands to build loyalty and expand their customer base:

  • 52% of consumers said they would switch brands if the company does not offer personalized communication6
  • 25% of consumers have stopped engaging with a brand due to poor personalization7
  • 35%  of Millennial consumers are willing to walk away from a brand with poor personalization7

Brands must offer personalized and contextualized product experiences.Consumers become advocates when brands meet or exceed their expectations. Brands must understand their customers and their purchase journey to create a shopping experience that specifically caters to their needs.

So how can brands deliver the demands for experience-driven commerce?

Delivering experience-driven commerce

Brands that want to focus on experience-driven commerce must re-imagine their e-commerce strategy. Many will have to begin by embarking on a digital transformation journey. Digital transformation is the catalyst for innovation in the e-commerce space. It allows brands to connect people, process, data and technology. Specifically, digital transformation can help brands eliminate organizational and technological silos, improve internal processes and empower brands to deliver accurate and updated information to its partners and audiences. This is vital to build an engaging brand message in order to generate the success expected of an experience-driven business.

Brands that are digital are in a great position to understand consumers, enhance their product offerings and deliver a channel-agnostic experience, any time. Additionally, brands must consider the following elements when shifting to a more experience-driven approach:

  • Technology. Brands need to leverage the right technology that can fully support their e-commerce strategy. The necessary solutions will depend on the products sold and the target market. At its core, the chosen technology must be able to provide solutions for personalization, analytics, testing, product information and digital assets management.
  • Data. Hyper-personalized experiences begin with data. Brands need a system of insight to ensure that data, wherever and however it is used and by whom, is high quality – complete, accurate, rich and up to date, all the time. Additionally, data must be used intelligently by way of analytics to fully exploit its potential.
  • Content. Product content is critical. It must speak to the needs and wants of consumers. To provide context around shopping experiences, product content must be tailored to the persona, preferences, location and needs of the target audience.

Experience-driven commerce begins with product experience

Great experience-driven commerce begins with meeting customers on every stage of their shopping journey. It requires understanding on how consumers use different channels to look for the information they need to decide on a purchase. Brands must send the right messages without overwhelming their consumers along the way. Furthermore, the shopping journey must be made seamless and easy.

Delivering experience-driven commerce does not have to be complicated. However, it does require the right strategy that is adaptable to the future expectations and preferences of consumers.

How D2C is Impacting Retail

How D2C is Impacting Retail

D2C, D to C or DTC, stands for direct-to-consumer, a business model that cuts the middleman (e.g. wholesalers and retailers) and allows brands to control the end-to-end process, i.e. manufacture and market their product, as well as take care of order fulfillment.

Brands and consumers can both win with D2C, with manufacturers enjoying gross margins on sales (saving approximately 10-15% from wholesale distribution and 15-40% from retailers)1 and owning first-party data to better understand end-consumers, and consumers, on the other hand, benefiting from lower cost offerings and improved experiences.

Deloitte compiled D2C’s benefits for brands in this chart:2

Deloitte infographic D2C benefits for brands
(Image Source: Deloitte)

 

A closer look at most of these benefits reveals D2C’s appeal for manufacturers:

Expanded reach

Unhampered by physical location, geography, time zone and even language, D2C brands can market via social media, sell through e-commerce and deliver products using third-party fulfillment service providers. This is in sharp contrast with the traditional model, where manufacturers are constrained by a retailers’ reach.

Personalization

With access to an incredible wealth of data generated by digital tools and platforms, D2C brands can better understand their customers’ journeys towards a purchase. Armed with insights from first-party data, they can offer personalized experiences to specific segments and individuals, therefore improving sales as well as customer retention and satisfaction.

Customer loyalty

By owning the customer relationship, D2C brands get to know their customers deeply and thus, can deliver targeted value propositions. Through personalization and continuous engagement, they are better positioned to establish and grow loyalty from their customers.

Full assortment

With D2C, brands are free to lay out a comprehensive assortment of their products—how, where and when they want. This is unlike the traditional model, where they are restricted by a retailers’ shelves and goals.

Pricing control

Brands that have gone direct can A/B test their price to find out what works with consumers. They can also freely increase or decrease pricing according to the economics of their business unlike when they only have partial control of pricing as they have to defer to the price set by the wholesalers or distribution outlets.

Full control of merchandising

When brands own all their channels in D2C, they can offer the right products to the right consumers according to data, unlike when merchandising was the retailers’ call.

Time-to-market

Without middlemen who have own their timing and requirements (i.e. must show proof of success for products to be distributed in certain locations), D2C brands can sell and deliver products to consumers whenever they want.

D2C threatens retail by cutting into its market share

According to Diffusion’s 2018 D2C Purchase Intent Index, more and more Americans are poised to buy from D2C brands within the next five years:3

·        A third will make 40% of their purchases from D2C brands

·        81% will make at least one purchase from D2C brands

However, despite of these numbers, eMarketer found that only department stores and other traditional mall-based retailers will be affected, not retail giants such as Amazon, Walmart and Target.4

Has D2C really upended retail?

By being agile and leaving the old-school supply chain process behind, eliminating dependences on third-party distribution systems and controlling their branding, many D2C companies have found success. Furthermore, by highlighting their truths and values, D2C companies have also increased their appeal with the millennial segment.

In addition, D2C brands have made efforts to understand end-consumers, offered flexible pricing schemes, provided delivery/shipping options and built trust through rich content and unparalleled customer service.

Take D2C’s poster child, Warby Parker’s success as an example. How did the hipster brand turn the eyeglasses industry upside-down without a physical store? Since they know their target segment, they used narrative storytelling and a creative Instagram ad strategy to hook and engage,5 eventually causing hundreds of other fashion and lifestyle brands to follow their example.

Here’s an example of how Warby Parker eliminated the top concern of consumers when it comes to buying wearable products online (the fact that consumers can’t physically try their products on):

Warby Parker How it Works

(Image source: Warby Parker)

The content may be short, but it used simple instructions, clean designs, spoke their target’s language and, most importantly, gave them the freedom to choose. Warby Parker also provided shoppers with a fun, frictionless and personalized experience – things that retailers might struggle to provide.

D2C intensifies the competition

Due to the success of D2C startups, more and more players have come into the scene. It includes big names such as Nike and Apple, making an already tight space even tighter and creating a suffocating environment for retailers, competition-wise.

Nike has been so successful with D2C that it stopped selling to Amazon in 2019. Although the decision might have included issues with counterfeits, Nike shared with Retail Drive that it’s more about improving customer experience, “As part of Nike’s focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships, we have made the decision to complete our current pilot with Amazon Retail.”6

What was Nike’s D2C strategy? They called it “Consumer Direct Offense,” which aims to “serve consumers personally, at scale” and entails enhancing their digital efforts through mobile apps.7

Through the Nike Customer Experience (NCX) program,8 the brand aims to create more personal connections with customers through the “30-day free returns, dirt and all” free trials, access to the Nike Plus rewards program and Nike experts and personalized exercise routines and more.9

Nike image source_Heidi O'Neill and Adam Sussman's Transcript

(Image source: Heidi O’Neill and Adam Sussman’s Transcript)

 

The D2C industry was forecasted to account for $17.75 billion of total US e-commerce sales in 2020, further proving that this business model pays.

Here’s a list of top D2C brands:10

  • Warby Parker, valued at $1.75 billion
  • Dollar Shave Club, acquired by Unilever for $1 billion
  • Casper and Harry’s, each valued at about $750 million apiece
  • Glossier, valued at $390 million
  • Bonobos, acquired for $310 million
  • BarkBox, worth between $150 and $200 million

D2C’s success also has implications on marketing, as companies that used to invest in advertising and brand-building in physical stores are now looking at digital because there is where the consumers are shifting to.

As Racantour puts it, “Once a consumer has downloaded the company’s app or logged into its website, the entire experience takes place in a digital, walled garden and can be highly personalized.” 11

But it’s not only in the online space that D2C brands are besting retail. They’re also encroaching on retail’s physical spaces as many have opened brick-and-mortar stores to fulfill their omnichannel goals.

But then there’s Amazon and Walmart

D2C is here to stay. This means it’s up to retailers to rise to the challenge and evolve. They must note that retail remains a vital channel in an omnichannel environment, and look to Walmart and Amazon, which are blurring the lines of retail and D2C, for inspiration. For these two giants, the motto seems to be, “If you can’t beat them…”

Sources:

1 Direct to Consumer Strategy, an Expert’s Guide
2 Deloitte, Consumer Business Going Digital / Going Direct
3 Diffusion’s 2018 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index
4 The Future of Retail 2020
5 Warby Parker Marketing Story
6 Nike to stop selling on Amazon
7 Nike consumer direct offense
8 Nike Direct – Heidi & Adam’s Transcript
9 How Nike combines customer centricity with brand reputation to stay on top
10 Direct-to-Consumer Start-ups You Need to Know
11 Why Direct to Consumer Brands are dominating in Retail

COVID-19 is affecting everyone’s shopping behavior differently

With more people staying indoors to curb the spread of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that this new reality might change how and where people shop. Although only time will tell if these changes will be temporary or permanent, we can start to observe how the pandemic is affecting demographic shopping behavior.

Cautious millennials

As a group, millennials are often characterized as careful with their money, meaning they watch how, why, when and where they spend it. For instance, they currently spend $20 less than their age group counterparts did 10 years ago.1 There are several theories that attempt to explain why millennials are this cautious, but the most accepted is that they were shaped by the realities of the 2007 Great Recession. Nonetheless, this group still holds the greatest shopping potential for decades to come, and this is why businesses have been scrambling to understand their shopping behavior to cater to their needs and meet their expectations.

So, how is this pandemic affecting their shopping behavior? In a survey conducted at the start of the outbreak, 54% of millennials said that COVID-19 is significantly or somewhat impacting their purchase decisions – the highest among the generational demographic – compared to 33% of baby boomers, 42% of Gen X, and 49% of Gen Z.2 Furthermore, 39% percent of respondents said they are shopping less frequently in stores with 30% of millennials shopping more often online2.

The millennials’ cautious approach to spending is being reflected by how they have reacted to news about COVID-19 in their communities:3

/        39% say that news about the coronavirus is impacting where and how they shop

/        36% say news about the coronavirus impacts how much they are spending on products

/        40% cut back on spending in preparation for impacts of the coronavirus

/        34% buy more products in anticipation of the spread of the coronavirus

Indifferent boomers

Despite being the age group with the highest risk for COVID-19 complications, boomers show the least concern about contracting the novel coronovirus.5 In fact, only 43% expressed being worried as opposed to 53% of millennials, consequently reflecting how much they will shift their buying behavior in response to the pandemic. For example, only 20% of boomers said they have adopted grocery shopping behavior changes in response to the coronavirus outbreak4.

Typically, older generations tend to be laggards in the adoption of new technologies. This has been the case with boomers and e-commerce, specifically on categories such as groceries or fashion. Despite current increases in adoption of online grocery shopping due to the outbreak, only 22% of boomers are shopping less in-store and just 8% are shopping more frequently online. Even though these numbers are noticeably lower in comparison with other generations, it’s important to note that these changes in behavior may be permanent. Therefore, boomers that try online grocery shopping, for instance, during the pandemic, are likely to continue do so again in the long term.6

Difference across genders

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only affecting consumer behavior across generational lines. Stark contrasts can also be seen between genders, as the coronavirus affects men and women’s shopping habits differently. If women, in general, express higher concerns about the effect of the outbreak, it is men who are more likely to alter their shopping behavior:7

/        33% of men, compared to 25% of women report the pandemic affects how much they spend on products

/        24% percent of men versus 18% of women report higher online shopping

It must be noted that most of the research was conducted at the start of the pandemic. Therefore, it is likely that figures will change as more communities move towards more restrictive quarantine measures.

However, retailers and D2C manufacturers need to continue to monitor these behavioral changes closely. Understanding how consumers change will be critical for them to succeed once things return to normal. It’s highly likely that consumers will emerge from this crisis with  changed perceptions, unusual shopping habits or leveraging different technological tools.