RETAILTAINMENT STILL MATTERS.
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact . Two months since the schools were first closed, on the eve of Phase 1 to ease Covid-19 restrictions, is a timely moment to revisit this work from 12 months ago, and see how the forced Covid-19 Lockdown restrictions are likely to shape the Irish retail landscape going forward. By understanding how retail is likely to evolve, we can provide a useful framework for developing commercial marketing plans and activations going forward, for both brand owners and retailers alike.
CAVEAT EMPTOR. Our job at V360° is not to predict exactly how things will turn out in the coming months or years, but to help prepare our clients for the outcomes that are reasonably possible. To that end, this blog is intended to provoke positive discussion to help navigate the current crisis and prepare for the future. It’s fair to say that we do not have any clairvoyant powers to predict what’s going to happen in the next 15 minutes, let alone 5 years. However, we have a good idea, based on our expertise and experience in shopper and retail what is likely to transpire.
CUSTOMERS’ NEEDS REMAIN CONSTANT, EXPECTATIONS EVOLVE.
The closing of all non-essential businesses has forced many of us to transform how we live our daily lives as well as our purchasing behaviours overnight. We can no longer shop, socialise, or partake in wellbeing activities with the pre-Covid-19 freedom. We are adapting our behaviours accordingly, finding alternatives, often enabled by digital solutions to fulfil these needs.
The Salesforce Q1 Shopping Index shows a dramatic shift from physical to digital browsing and buying as more people work from home and navigate their lives digitally iii. The fact is that in times of change such as life-stage, holidays, economic crisis and global pandemics, people try out new behaviours, some of which stick. Two months into lockdown, certain adopted behaviours at key touchpoints on our purchase decisions journey are likely to stick in the long term:
Recent research from Shopper Intelligence shows shopper behaviour is evolving in the Covid-19 landscape, two months on from initial lockdown measures. While the ‘Big Shop’ with its accompanying higher basket spend continues to dominate, ‘Top Ups’ are on the rise again. To highlight how shoppers’ expectations have been dramatically reframed, Satisfaction scores have risen during the Covid-19 crisis (a statistically significant +4% points rise in Satisfaction) compared to pre-Covid-19 scores.iv
Post Covid-19, it will come to pass, these expectations will realign, customers will value more emotionally engaging purchasing experiences. The challenge for retailers and brands is to anticipate and meet these needs.
RETAILERS AND SUPPLIERS DELVIERING GREAT OUT OF HOME EXPERIENCES IN THE HOME.
Not to be outdone supermarkets are also getting creative by using virtual platforms to connect with consumers. Seattle-based PCC Community Markets is hosting online cooking demonstrations through the Zoom platform for $25 per class. The one-hour classes give shoppers the opportunity to enter inside instructors’ home kitchens and learn tips and tricks for certain dishes or types of food. Recipes are shared in advance so students can gather the ingredients, prepare questions, and follow along.
SOCIAL SHOPPING BECOMES JUST SHOPPING.
Italian make-up brand We Make-Up leveraged Facebook Augmented Reality Ads to try on different shades of liquid lipstick through a face filter viii.
Ralph Lauren worked with Snapchat AR Lenses and Snap Ads to provide users a gamified way to experience the brand’s products. This yielded a 19% attributable lift in sales ix.
Saudi youth clothing brand Nisnass also leveraged Snapchat’s AR ad capabilities to deliver a 40% lift in profitability in ROI. x
In early 2020, fashion brand Burberry partnered with Google to incorporate an AR experience directly within mobile search results. xi
VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES THAT YOU CAN TRY BEFORE YOU BUY.
More and more retailers and brands are enabling customers to virtually try before they buy, from personal beauty products to clothing and shoes as well as household furniture and decoration. A retail trend that will be accelerated by Covid-19. A great example is the rise of Stich Fix, the online personal styling service that uses recommendation algorithms and data science to personalize clothing items based on size, budget and style. The company was founded in 2011 and had an initial public offering in 2017 with a valuation of $1.6 billion.
Others to leverage this trend are ModiFace, a technology app that includes live 3D makeup simulation, live anti-aging/skin-care simulation, and hair style and colour simulation. ModiFace’s technology currently powers augmented reality experiences for brands including Armani, L’Oréal Professionnel, and Samsung.
The Dulux Visualizer app lets you see your room live in any colour before you paint it. The App gives you an instant, realistic impression of how your room could look, enabling customers to easily choose paint colours that complement their home.
Jenzy launched a new foot-sizing and eCommerce app that makes it easy to buy perfectly fitted shoes for young children online. Jenzy recommends the best shoes for your child based on their stage of development and matches your child’s foot to the best size in each pair of shoes. They promise to ‘send the perfect size, every time’ xii.
LEVERAGING STAFF, IN-STORE AND ONLINE TO CREATE ENAGIING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES.
Gap is closing its fitting rooms and holding returned clothing for at least a day, to ensure that clothes are not contaminated. “Our whole goal is to be the gold standard when it comes to safe retaining,” Gap Chief Executive Sonia Syngal said in a recent interview xiii.
Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan was forced to close 40% of its stores during the Covid-19 crisis, including all of its locations in Wuhan. However, the company rapidly redeployed sales efforts to new channels both in B2C and B2B enterprises. They deployed its 100+ beauty advisors from those stores to become online influencers who leveraged digital tools, such as WeChat, to engage customers virtually and drive online sales. As a result, its sales in Wuhan achieved 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales. xv
ENHANCING THE IN-STORE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE.
But what about contactless shopping? Technologies like RFID, Bluetooth and QR Codes can seamlessly transfer content to a shopper’s smartphone without contact. They also make it possible for customers to complete transactions on their mobile devices and opt for delivery to their home. This evolution of the omnichannel shopping experience will accelerate as retailers invest in experiences that reduce the need for physical interaction and time spent in-store xvi.
In the meantime, there are existing technologies that can improve the customer experience pre-store, in-store, and post-store.
The aswaaq Reach Mobile App (Dubai, UAE) can create a shopping list, add products from recipes, navigate the shortest route in the supermarket based on your shopping list, while receiving promotional offers based on your shopping preferences. As if that wasn’t enough, it can also call a store assistant for help, create gamification options to make shopping more fun, as well as offering product information for healthier choices. At the end of the in-store shopping trip, a self-checkout option avoids the checkout queues. xvii
Target’s Cartwheel app simplifies your trips to the store and online orders by gathering up hundreds of deals in one place. Create a list of your go-to items and it will tell you which ones are currently on sale. Another handy feature: a map of where to find those specific products in the store.
Lidl Ireland’s WhatsApp Chatbot helps you shop at the quietest period. Simply send a message with the day and time you intend to visit and it’ll instantly let you know whether that’s a Quieter/Average/Busier time to visit.
German supermarket chain Edeka has introduced a robot called Pepper to teach customers how to appropriately social distance during the coronavirus outbreak. And, as you can see from this tweet, it gives out to people when they don’t follow the rules. xix
IMPLICATIONS GOING FORWARD FOR CREATING A GREAT RETAIL EXPERIENCE.
PEOPLE: The future of retail will continue to be people centric. Staff are more important than ever in creating engaging customer experiences. Customers judge their experiences primarily based on how they felt at its peak and its end [The Peak-End Heuristic – Daniel Kahneman]. Staff are often the final point of contact with customers and can make the difference between customers just remembering a store and actively returning to and recommending that store to others.
SPACE: The in-store environment can significantly influence the mood, feelings and behaviour of shoppers. Creating a safe, secure, and relaxed environment for shoppers is of paramount consideration at present and likely to be relevant for the foreseeable future. Be choiceful in how space is utilised in-store; lighting, fixtures, signage all have a role to play in enhancing the customer experience.
COMMUNICATIONS: Will continue to play an important role in helping shoppers to intuitively navigate the in-store environment, while abiding by the new shopping etiquette, and find the items that they are looking for. Figuring out creative ways to disrupt and engage shoppers in a meaningful way will be as important as ever.
TECHNOLOGY: Can help to take the friction out of shopping: 100% contactless payments; managing queues; keeping shoppers at a safe distance. However, it can also help to surprise and delight customers, through serendipitous discovery of new and interesting solutions, gamification and reward loyalty.
PLANNING: Make a virtue out of necessity, by utilising appointment bookings or virtual queuing, to control physical numbers in store with the added potential of a more personalised, premium experience. Brands need to find ways to extend their influence in the customer journey prior to visiting the store or website, through social and digital media as well as creating great at home usage experiences.
ii BeyondRetailIndustry.com. ‘Retailtainment: the convergence of leisure, entertainment and retail’. May 2018. LINK.
iii Salesforce Q1 Shopping Index. Online Retail Revenue Grows 17% in the UK. 01 May 2020.
iv ECR Ireland Covid-19 Webinar 4 – Shopper Intelligence The Irish Grocery Shopper Covid-19 14 May 2020.
v AustralianBartender.com. ‘Monkey Shoulder’s Monkey Mixer is partnering with bars to deliver free cocktails’. May 2020. LINK.
vi TheProgressiveGrocer.com. ‘How Zoom can help grocers during Covid-19. May 2020. LINK.
vii Bionic….. eCommerce Advertising BEST PRACTICE REPORT 2020 – April 2020.
viii Facebook For Business – We Make-up Increasing sales with Facebook’s Augmented Reality ads 2020 LINK.
ix Snapchat.com. ‘Ralph Lauren combines AR lenses and Snap Ads to drive +19% lift in sales on their website’. December 2019. LINK.
x Snapchat.com. ‘Snapchat drives 40% higher ROI for Nisnass’. May 2019 LINK.
xi Mobile-AR.Reality.News.com. ‘Burberry teams with Google Search to let you browse high fashion in augmented reality’. February 2020. LINK.
xii PRNewsWire.com. ‘Jenzy launches foot-sizing and eCommerce app to make online shoe buying for young children a perfect fit’. June 2018. LINK.
xiii CNBC – Here’s how you’ll be safely shopping for clothes as stores begin to reopen 11 May 2020. LINK.
xiv CNBC – Here’s how you’ll be safely shopping for clothes as stores begin to reopen 11 May 2020. LINK.
xv Harvard Business Review. How Chinese Companies Have Responded to Coronavirus March 2020. LINK.
xvi RetailCustomerExperience.com. ‘Covid-19 will bring lasting innovation to retail’. April 2020. LINK. SpringWise.com. ‘Chinese beauty retailer moves in-store advisers online during Covid-19. March 2020. LINK.
xvii Interact-Lighting.com. ‘A personalized, frictionless shopping experience’. May 2020. LINK.
xviii GoodHouseKeeping.com. ’10 best grocery shopping list apps, according to nutrition and tech experts’. April 2020. LINK.
xix RetailTechInnovationHub.com. ‘Edeka deploys Pepper robot to combat coronavirus.’ April 2020. LINK.