False clues may add to retail confusion about connected consumers

Jan 24, 2012 Comments Off by

An interesting article in RetailWire includes the following chart from research carried out by Equation Research in the US.  1,500 consumers were asked their preferred method of browsing and discovering new products.

I’ve added the chart below, with a link to the article on RetailWire.

From the research, the vast majority of respondents preferred to use their laptop to browse websites rather than doing this via their smartphone or tablet, and even fewer consumers prefer to use apps provided by retailers.

Browsing & Discovering

In my view, this research result is not so surprising as browsing and discovering usually takes a bit of time and effort – and a decent size screen.  It’s no secret that in future, more consumers will use tablets.  Some pundits are even predicting the oncoming demise of the lap top, but I reckon it’s a bit early for that just yet.

This research could create misleading views for retailers and may be giving false clues about strategies to use.

Discovering new products is NOT what many consumers are doing on smartphones. Consumers are using their smartphones for tasks they can do while they are mobile like finding locations, specials and comparative shopping. Even while in a retail store, many are searching for cheaper prices or better availability of the brands and model numbers they discover in the shop.

Retail businesses DO need to make sure their websites work well and look good on tablets (such as the iPad). This is part of a major trend, and any website that does not work well on an iPad is limiting its reach and effectiveness  by cutting out a rapidly growing sector of the consumer market.

The website also needs to be operational and viewable on smartphones.  More importantly, products need to be findable on a smartphone.

Should retailers focus on creating their own apps? Maybe – it really depends on the wants and expectations of the customers of each  retailer – and generalizing is both dumb and dangerous.  Most consumers will only bother to download an app from a retailer if the app offers far more than they can get from the retailer’s website.

To Price or Not To Price?  That is A Question.

Different retailers have different views on revealing pricing of products online. Really, there is no right or wrong.

Some are happy to sell online and need to include pricing details. Others prefer to keep pricing details to themselves and only provide these in response to direct inquiries.

Including pricing details is a strategic and often tactical question, but what is very clear is that online customers need to be able to find retailers who stock particular products and make easy contact with those stores who are convenient and available.

Get Used To This Multi-Channel World

How consumers find details on products and how they decide when and where to buy products is much more complex in this multi-channel world.

But that is  the reality and multi-channels are continuously evolving, driven by factors such as pricing and cost pressures, convenience and availability.

Customer service should be the big differentiator, but sadly very few retailers are famous for their customer service.

Delivering outstanding customer service in the  integrated multi-channel world takes effort and integrated systems. It’s not an either-or question of which technology to use.

The answer is to make sure you’ve got all bases covered as best you can, and to make sure the bases that are important to the bulk of your customers are covered really well.

Becoming Chosen

According to author Martin Butler, every retailer is in the business of being chosen.  Retailers need to be chosen by consumers.

The way I see it, anything that helps a business be chosen is good for the business. Anything that hinders the choice is bad. It’s pretty simple really. Getting chosen is (of course) not so simple, and staying “the chosen one” is harder still. Harder, but definitely possible.

Technology provides the tools. You still have to use them wisely to make the tools work best for you.

You can read the RetailWire article here.  And here’s the chart I mentioned.

Connected Consumers

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