Tech companies have opened the doors to a brave new world of commerce and consumers have quickly adapted to the digital process of discovering products, researching what they want, and making purchases. Retailers have been slower to come up the curve. In a new report, PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC) urges marketers to embrace a Total Retail model which means they’ll be focusing on a single brand message and customer experience across all channels supported by an integrated back-office operation.
As evidence of a changing consumer world, PWC analysts note that 41% of surveyed shoppers, globally, have made purchases via tablets and 43% have made purchases via smartphones. Online shoppers don’t limit themselves to digital purchasing. But, they do have certain expectations about their favorite retailers and it’s all about seamlessness. If shoppers see an online promotion, they expect the promotion or offer to be available in the traditional store as well.
Retailers face a tough competitive environment. In some cases, consumers are cutting down on the number of retailers they do business with. For example, the number of consumers who visit only 1 retailer in the year, in any channel, jumped from 8% to 15%. Similarly, the number of consumers who shop at between only 2 and 5 retailers in a year jumped from 25% to 43%.
When consumers were asked about the number of retailers they frequently in the multichannel space – note that tablet/PC is a separate channel from mobile/smartphone – 46% said they give their business to 1 retailer. The top reason given, for 86%, was brand trust.
One facet of brand trust relates to the protection of personal data. Brands must walk a fine line between rolling out digital, personalized offers to consumers while promising to keep their data safe.
Some consumers still hesitate to shop online and want to try a product in person (54%) and enjoy physically shopping (52%). To appeal to these consumers, stores can use technology to improve their experience. Nearly half, 46%, of consumers want to be able to check inventory while they’re in the store. They’d also like sales associates to be able to handle the payment transaction on the floor instead of at centrally located registers.
Another facet of the Total Retail model is to engage in the two-way conversation that consumers want to have with their favorite marketers. Consumer electronics (55%) and clothing and footwear (54%) are top categories for consumer research through social media. These are also categories in which consumers are happy to purchase directly from manufacturers because they like the specific brand. This is a worrisome trend for retailers and one that emphasizes the need to create marketing programs and a business model that resonates with consumers.
If you're a retailer, what are you doing to move toward a total retail model?
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.