Watch this space: Like Shopping? Prepare for something better
There are 3 reasons I never go shopping without my smart phone; first I need to be able to compare the price of what is on sale with the price I would pay elsewhere, secondly, I like to see a review of the product on-line and thirdly I need to be able to call my wife when I am in doubt about what kind of groceries, or some other unknown item written on her shopping list (female hygiene products are always challenging for me).
“The shopping experience has suffered a dramatic change over the last decades. Offers are larger and more diversified than ever, globalization is a reality and e-commerce is growing exponentially. Buyers are more demanding, discerning and sophisticated while the traditional selling models are not good enough to secure a sustainable sales flow.”
This change in shopping, fueled by mobile technologies and a much deeper understanding of the customers behaviors and demands is the scope of a white paper shortly to be published by the Scientific Community, called "The Future of In-Store Shopping".
Physical shopkeepers, as explained in the paper, are increasingly under pressure to compete with the e-commerce world in order to provide an experience that has the same convenience of shopping on-line while at the same time offer the intimacy and customer satisfaction of getting to touch and discuss a product.
"The answer lies in putting the customer at the center of the value chain through an enhanced shopping experience. Whenever customers interact with the commerce, a new opportunity arises to know them better and offer a more personalized service, which could extend up to negotiating prices on a one-to-one basis."
New shopping models will be needed to capture the client and bring the value of being in the shop, while at the same time the convenience of electronic payment and delivery is combined with the physical shop experience. Possible scenario's include personalization but also increase the experience through show casing of product ranges and providing expert support during the decision making process.
The reason for being in a store can be further enhanced by making it part of a full end-to-end experience that can even start before you go into the shop. Something we used to do by sending around leaflets of this week's offerings, but can now become a much more sophisticated and personal experience through data analytics of previous purchases or engaging the customer in communities - this 'value-flow', that can even include a post-shopping experience, is explained in detail and allows you to understand how you can set this up yourself.
"The better the retailers take care after a purchase, considering it the 'purchase before the next purchase', the more likely they are to have won happy and frequent customers."
Technology will support this change. New payment methods, using mobile devices (we have talked about this before in my blogs and a white paper dedicated to mobile payments is also available) are increasingly available. But other technologies such as geo-location and in-store routing allow consumers to find stores and even navigate to specific locations inside the store. Big Data Analytics and all types of product identification through smart labelling, NFC or bar codes will help us track both the consumer and the products inside the store and beyond. Better and 'always-on' connectivity will support high enough bandwidth to enrich the physical product with lots of additional (meta-) data to give the customer even more information.
"Initially consumers will start using basic functionalities (find a store, make a shopping list, get product information, etc.) and once they feel confident and see the value, they will access more complex functionalities (make a shopping basket, self-checkout, mobile payment, cloud tickets, etc.). It is important that all these functions are easy to use and they are designed with the consumer at the center, hiding the complexity of the technologies being used (NFC, image recognition, indoor location, etc.)"
And when we look further in the future we will see possibilities for consumers to get access to the full product life cycle - where was this chair made, what is the origin of this coffee, what are the ingredients of this pizza? The full ecological footprint will be available regarding the actual product you are touching and putting in your basket. On top of that, using augmented reality the shop can adapt itself to your mood, informing the staff that you are open for suggestions or want to be left alone.
"Ultimately, what will make stores interesting in the future is the same thing that makes them interesting today: the physical experience of being there, talking to real people who know their products, touching such products and the unbeatable joy at leaving the store with the product in your hands."
The paper gives you a comprehensive overview and is a good starting point to understand how customer expectations, technology and the way retailers like to organize their physical business comes together. And this is not far away in the future as I experienced recently when my favorite on-line retailer just now opened a physical store in my home town - interestingly the location of the store was the result of asking their on-line customers to find the best spot for them. I'm sure they saved a lot of money because they did not need to hire a specialist, locating the perfect location was outsourced to their customers - in my book, that is clever thinking.