Welcome to the Sharing and Influence Economy

December 21, 2015
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There is no doubt there has been tremendous growth in our connectivity. “Digital influence-that is, the degree to which in-store sales are influenced by digital at some point in the shopping journey–is growing at an increasing pace. We are fast approaching a day when we can assume 100 percent of shoppers will be connected 100 percent of the time,” reported Deloitte in its “Navigating The New Digital Divide” white paper.

Back in 2012, the Deloitte study “The Dawn of Mobile Influence” showed that customers using mobile devices in-store while shopping were more apt to make a purchase. The consequent 2014 “The New Digital Dawn” Deloitte reported that digital influence impacted 36 percent of retail sales in 2013. Let’s face it digital, mobile and social influence are empowering a new kind of shopper.

The new study found:

  • One-third said they spend more due to their use of digital during the shopping process
  • Digital shoppers spend more because they can research products to make informed decisions.
  • Shoppers no longer have to clip coupons and search for deals. Technology allows retailers to put saving literally in the palm of their customer’s hands.
  • 70% of shoppers are leading their own shopping journeys outside of brand or retailer communications.
  • Consumers use digital different depending on the category. For example, 62% reported that they are most influenced by digital when shopping for electronics as opposed to food and beverage where they reported it influenced 31% of sales. Makes perfect sense: the larger the purchase, the more information needed.

How do you solve for the new shopper?

I think Susan Whiting, the former vice chair at research firm Nielsen and now an executive adviser at Moxie Software, stated it best. “Effective digital customer engagement requires that we leverage understanding of customer behavior to offer not just contextually relevant information, but contextually relevant assistance that helps the customer through the online buying experience,” she added.

What is contextually relevant assistance?

Sometimes contextually relevant assistance is do-it-yourself. I love Apple with their Apple app and the ease it brings to shopping. No need for a sales person. You just scan the item you want using the app and pay with Easy Pay. Done. And Home Depot self-checkout suits my need for speed. I love Scan and Go.

Contextually relevant assistance is useful content coupled with a customer experience that doesn’t require the audience to search for it endlessly. All Saints incorporated iPads into their retail stores allowing customers to check for information without the aid of a sales person. Does anyone really like or trust talking to a sales associate? Retailers need to incorporate digital into store environments.

There is a reason Amazon is the behemoth it is. No one uses data better than Amazon to deliver contextually relevant assistance. They will tell me when my favorite dog bones are on sale. They make it easy to order them with one click. They allow for un-edited customer reviews so you see the good, bad and ugly about products you are considering. It’s saved me from a disaster purchase and by virtue of hosting bad reviews, it builds trust with the retailer.

Styld.d by Gap features real people: bloggers, celebs and more wearing their clothing. Not posed skinny models that don’t look like the majority of us. #styldby aggregates ordinary people wearing Gap clothes. You can search by trend, season or color. It makes Gap culturally relevant and real.

Contextually relevant assistance is understanding the customer journey and anticipating and answering their questions along the way. Knowing the path starts with digital and a search for content to make informed decisions, how well would you rank at delivering on their needs? Or even understanding what they want?

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