Digital technology tears down store walls, claims new Future Shopper report


Digital technology tears down the walls of the store – and the winners of future retail will be the ones who do one of the following things well:

  • They will reinvent convenience
  • They will redefine loyalty
  • They will re-imagine experience
  • They will reposition value

That’s one of the key findings of a new study by consultancy firms Kantar Retail and The Futures Company.

In their new report – The Future Shopper – Kantar Retail and The Futures Company have analysed global shopper and technology trends to build up a picture of how retailers will need to develop new ways of thinking about their customers and embrace technology to meet shopper needs.

The battle used to be seen as one between bricks and mortar and the online world but, as technology becomes increasingly mobile, those worlds are merging, said researchers.

At the same time, shoppers are looking for different types of relationships with stores. In a world of complexity and low trust, they are looking for assurance and greater simplicity as well as value and experience.

And they will have done so by using technology to find new ways to address underlying shopper needs across channels, formats and touchpoints.

The authors of The Future Shopper have come up with nine rules for rethinking the shopper proposition:

  1. The shopper context has changed for good – this is about changing attitudes, as well as technology
  2. The shopping process has been disaggregated, and this will continue – the process of buying has gone from a “purchase funnel” to a “purchase fish”, opening up new ways for retailers to relate to shoppers at different parts of the process
  3. The store needs to be extended in time and space – shops need to extend themselves beyond a physical location or website as shoppers will engage with retail either more or less virtually or more or less physically, depending on their preferences at any one time
  4. If you’re in bricks and mortar, you’re in digital too – use the technology to your advantage, whether using digitised mirrors to show a dress in other colours, or by having service staff help customers buy goods online when they aren’t available in-store
  5. If you’re in bricks and mortar, make the most of the physical contact – a physical store can be more than a place to buy things. You can give specialist advice one-to-one or tours of a specialist department offering tasting sessions.
  6. Pricing will be become more personal – knowing more about your customer and engaging with them can lead to putting together a pricing plan just for them, beyond the realms of mere vouchers
  7. If your shopper marketing is being done in-store, it’s being done too late – shoppers do their research before they arrive so you need to engage with them before they leave their house
  8. Manage your intermediaries – shoppers use market portals for price comparison and research. Keep the intermediaries on your side
  9. Put a smile on your shoppers’ faces by surprising them – everyone loves a surprise

Henry Tucker, deputy managing director for the Futures Company, said: “A lot of people think that the changes in attitude and behaviour among shoppers is down to the financial crisis, but it’s much deeper than that – some of these trends started before the economic crisis, and we’re also seeing them in emerging markets which haven’t been affected in the same way.

“What we have found is that this is down to the intersection of changing social attitudes and technology. It’s a clash between the old and new. The shoppers themselves are largely unchanged, but their expectations of how businesses will meet their needs are changing.”

Steve Mader, senior analyst at Kantar Retail, said: “Retailers need to understand more fundamentally what their shoppers need and then think about how they can deliver it. It’s not

about online or physical, it’s about how those two worlds interact and how you can use that to your advantage.”