Dan Cobley, managing director UK and Ireland, Google, explored how the consumer shopping experience will change in future and how to put the web to work at the 2012 IGD Convention.
Cobley reminded delegates they operate in an environment where the customer is always connected – 59-60% of the UK population has a smart phone – and there are an infinite number of touch points companies can leverage.
According to Cobley, the key is to win the moments that matter, enable better decisions and constantly innovate.
Cobley highlighted a customer’s online journey in a recipe search – 800m recipe searches are made a year – and tools such as Google’s Chrome, which can transfer an online recipe to a shopping list on a phone. Further, Cobley said 21% of searches are now made from mobiles and 200,000 people look for recipes on YouTube.
He also cited the website Whisk, which brings together online recipes and online shopping, as a new service showcasing how the web is making the moment to buy really matter.
Click and collect is another new fulfillment option, accounting for 10% of all online retail in the UK, Cobley said. Drive-through is another alternative, being developed by Tesco; while Coles in Australia provides refrigerated convenience units at locations such as petrol stations. Tesco has also piloted virtual stores in South Korea and at Gatwick Airport, he added.
According to Cobley, the technology to locate and navigate inside a department store like Harrods from a smart phone is already available.
“There is no reason why that could not be inside stores as well, so shoppers can look at the aisles from their phone and plan their route,” he said.
Another retailer example is Albert Heijn and its Appie app, which can take a shopping list and reorder it into the natural order of a store.
“They’ve thought about things that make shopping a hassle and done some smart things,” said Cobley.
Whole Foods Market, meanwhile, is developing ‘brainy’ trolleys, which feature built-in scanners and follow shoppers around. They will alert a shopper if they add something that is not on a list or if there is a missing item.
On making better decisions using the web, Cobley pointed to Google Trends, which provides insights from search including analysis for seasonality and location. It can also highlight the demographics of people that have viewed ads on YouTube and measure retention rates, said Cobley.
Constantly innovating via the web includes looking to develop personalised packaging, for example.
Cadbury, for example, offers personalised chocolate bars.
“It is engaging with customers in a different way that can be very personal and gift-like,” said Cobley.
Other innovators include the website HelloFresh, offering ingredients and recipes for throughout the week; plus Evian and the Red Tomato Pizza Company, with their fridge magnets which can help trigger automatic orders for products.
Cobley also previewed NFC tags on Philadelphia cheese, which can be tapped with a smart phone to open up a website featuring information and recipe ideas.
“It’s a new dimension to engaging with the consumer,” he said.
Cobley said the cost of NFC tags is currently prohibitive for mass adoption but the technology to surface print a NFC label on a product was in development.
“I think that’s a pretty exciting future,” he said.