It’s 2006. You’re walking into your local shopping centre listening to Akon on your iPod Nano. You need a new pillow for your sore neck so you walk into Forty Winks and take a look at their selection. You pick a few up. One in particular feels soft, cushiony, and has a tag on it that says it’s made of ‘extra cushioned foam’. It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for, so you take it to the counter and buy.
It’s 2019. You’re at home thinking about how sore your neck is. You need a new pillow, so you pull your phone out and google ‘Pillow for sore neck buy’. The first result is a feather pillow from Forty Winks. You open a separate tab and google ‘best pillow for sore neck’, the first article informs you shredded memory foam pillows are best for a sore neck. You go back to your previous tab and find that there is a shredded memory foam pillow available at Just Bedding, right down the street from your house. You get in your car, head down to the store and purchase the pillow without looking at any other alternatives in store.
In the last 13 years, the way we shop has been completely revolutionised. Our shopping experience is no longer as simple as walking into a store, picking out an item and purchasing it. We are more informed than ever before and have a wealth of product knowledge and reviews at our fingertips.
Here’s an interesting fact: in the past 5 years foot traffic in stores has declined 57%, but the average dollar spent per visit has tripled. What does this tell us? It tells us that people are walking in with the intention to buy before they hit the shop floor. They’re not wasting their time looking at the range in store as they are already informed and have made a decision. For this reason, it is more important now than ever before that companies invest in their online communications. Although customers may be handing the money over in store, the real shopping is happening from their mobile phones, when they are doing their research and deciding where to buy.
For example in this study by Euclid Analytics shows that most smartphone owners still prefer to shop in store.
However, 90% of these people claim they use their smartphone as part of the in store shopping experience. Even when consumers are shopping the ‘traditional’ way, they are still constantly using their mobile devices to make the best purchasing decisions.
In cases of online shopping, the fact is that a lot of the time, the mobile convenience and practicality of the shopping experience can outweigh the quality of the product itself. The smartest companies have already come up with ways to make their digital shopping experience more convenient and desirable than others to get ahead in their market. Like this partnership between Elle and Samsung, where you can now shop the items in Elle magazine simply by taking a photo of them with the Samsung camera.
Taking a look at the last decade and forecasting the future of digital marketing it is possible to say that in a few years, what the shop floor looks like will be the least important thing. It’ll be more important what your website looks like, how you communicate with your consumers digitally and what information you can give them.
For example, picture this.
It’s 2029. You need a new pillow. You jump online, do some research, and find the pillow you’d like for the best price. It’s available in the drop in store down the street. You select ‘on my way’ on the website and get an instant email response with a ticket attached. You head down to the store, and walk in. The entire store is a warehouse storage space, with a few counters near the entrance. You head to counter 1b as instructed in your email. You show the sales assistant your ticket and they pull out a bag from the storage space behind them. You grab the bag and go back to your car, and get another email letting you know your payment has been received.
Essentially, in this constantly evolving digital age we live in, it is completely unpredictable where the future of retail lies, and we cannot rely on history to inform us. For this reason businesses must stay on top of their online communications and understand their demographic as much as possible in order to ensure they are able to reach them and keep them engaged.
However, with the constant movement of the internet in the world of retail, who really knows what’s coming next?