IN FO­CUS

To­day, the pur­pose of shop­ping is a jour­ney. It’s not just pur­chas­ing the prod­uct, but a re­la­tion­ship build­ing process for the brand.

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By Farhat Hanif, Global Mar­ket An­a­lyst at Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional

THE ‘SHOP­PING REIN­VENTED’ MEGATREND IN IN­DIA

Farhat Hanif writes on the three stages of shop­pers’ jour­ney – pre-pur­chase, pur­chase and the post-pur­chase.

Shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence over the years has seen a paradigm shift in the way ser­vices are of­fered and con­sumed. This shift in con­sumer be­hav­iour has a global im­pact across in­dus­tries which will shape the world through 2030, termed as a “megatrend” by Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional’s team of in­dus­try trend ex­perts, “Shop­ping Rein­vented” re­flects how eco­nomic and tech­no­log­i­cal shifts have rewrit­ten the shop­per jour­ney holis­ti­cally. Pre­vi­ously, pur­chases re­volved around the trans­ac­tion it­self with a lit­tle bit of word-of-mouth re­search. How­ever to­day, the pur­pose of shop­ping is a jour­ney. It’s not just pur­chas­ing the prod­uct, but a re­la­tion­ship build­ing process for the brand.

Firstly, the shop­per jour­ney can be bro­ken down to: pre­pur­chase stage, pur­chase and the post-pur­chase stage. To­day, brand ex­pe­ri­ence has been in­fused into all these stages.

Take a look at the pre­pur­chase stage. It is all about fram­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the shop­per, to an­swer the shop­per’s ques­tions about prod­ucts they are ex­plor­ing and show them how they can ex­pect their pur­chase to fit more broadly within their val­ues and life­style.

Mean­while, in the pur­chase stage there has been the rein­ven­tion of the trans­ac­tion. Price will still re­main very im­por­tant; how­ever, to­day’s con­sumer is not pay­ing only for the prod­uct. The con­ve­nience as­so­ci­ated with the pur­chase will also be in­te­grated into shop­pers’ per­cep­tion of value. Fur­ther­more, mak­ing things quicker is not only about speed­ing up the pay­ment, but cu­rat­ing goods and ser­vices in one lo­ca­tion.

In the fi­nal stage – post­pur­chase,the shop­per’s jour­ney is not about giv­ing some­thing to some­one in ex­change for money any­more. It is about sell­ing them a life­style, and life­styles do not stop when you walk out of the store. This stage is im­por­tant as con­nect­ing your brand with the con­sumer’s life­style makes the brand ex­pe­ri­ence rel­e­vant.

Nodes of Shop­ping Re-in­vented

As we have es­tab­lished, each stage of the shop­per’s jour­ney is im­por­tant for a brand. The pre-pur­chase stage is a place to strengthen the brand.

While pur­chase stage en­ables more items in carts and post­pur­chase stage ig­nites the next pur­chase. We will get into de­tail of how some sig­nif­i­cant “nodes” of these stages have evolved with some ex­am­ples:

Ex­pe­ri­en­tial Shop­ping

Re­tail­ers en­gage in ex­pe­ri­en­tial shop­ping when

they make the pre-pur­chase stage less trans­ac­tional and fo­cus on pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with ex­po­sure to their prod­uct or ser­vice in phys­i­cal lo­ca­tions. These re­tail­ers take a longert­erm ap­proach to mak­ing a sale in­stead of re­ly­ing on vol­ume. For ex­am­ple, Zi­vame a lead­ing on­line lin­gerie store launched its first fit­ting room store, to bridge the gap and pro­vide con­sumers with the touch and feel of the prod­uct. Launched in Bengaluru, the store al­lows women to come and get them­selves fit­ted for the right mea­sure­ments and then place the or­der on­line, at the store.

In­stant Grat­i­fi­ca­tion

With in­for­ma­tion avail­able at the touch of a but­ton, con­sumers ex­pect an­swers quickly and eas­ily to sat­isfy their ever-chang­ing needs. Tra­di­tion­ally, the grat­i­fi­ca­tion of the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence would oc­cur in-store af­ter a cus­tomer had de­cided upon a pur­chase and leaves the store with the prod­uct/ser­vice. Con­sumers now have a dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tion through­out the buy­ing process; they have ex­pec­ta­tions from cus­tomer ser­vice even be­fore a pur­chase is made. For ex­am­ple Dunzo, an app based per­sonal as­sis­tant, of­fers ser­vices like prod­uct pur­chase and pickup/ drop ex­em­pli­fies this trend by of­fer­ing in­stant re­sponse to ser­vice query even be­fore the money is spent.

Per­son­al­i­sa­tion

Given the evo­lu­tion of the shop­per, Brands are search­ing for new ways to en­gage with con­sumers and build brand loy­alty, of which a grow­ing num­ber is through per­son­al­i­sa­tion. This per­son­al­i­sa­tion could be in the form of a ser­vice such as nu­tri­tion plans or laun­dry pick-up ser­vices, or even one step fur­ther in of­fer­ing per­son­alised food plans based on ge­netic test­ing. Com­pa­nies such as, Health­i­fyme of­fer per­son­alised meal plans, weight-loss coach­ing and even cus­tomise so­lu­tions for con­sumers on in­di­vid­ual ba­sis.

Blended Store For­mats

Gone are the day of “stack it high and watch it fly” phi­los­o­phy, stores can no longer looked at like self­ser­vice ware­house. Greater con­sumer en­gage­ment en­abled by tech­nol­ogy also pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­ative new mod­els to thrive. Sell­ing via so­cial me­dia and so­cial mes­sag­ing (s-com­merce), in­ter­neten­abled sub­scrip­tion pro­grammes, pop-up shops and other in­no­va­tive meth­ods of­fer ways to tai­lor the trans­ac­tion to the prod­uct be­ing sold and to the con­sumer. For ex­am­ple, on­line food de­liv­ery plat­form Fresh­menu opened its first of­fline res­tau­rant at the in­ter­na­tional air­port in Bengaluru. The 70-seater res­tau­rant and all-day cafe is fol­low­ing the trend of B2C on­line start-ups cre­at­ing Om­nichan­nel pres­ence in or­der to be avail­able at ev­ery cus­tomer touch point, whether it is on­line/of­fline.

Value For Money

For most con­sumers, value for money means look­ing for low prices, how­ever, with in­creas­ing dis­pos­able in­come this viewpoint has evolved. To­day’s ur­ban con­sumer is look­ing a qual­ity of prod­ucts along with dura­bil­ity and are will­ing to spend that ex­tra buck. Some of the best re­tail­ers man­age to of­fer high qual­ity goods along­side the price com­pet­i­tive. The Fu­ture Group an­nounced their Re­tail 3.0 plan to in­clude open­ing 10,000 mem­ber-only easy day store. These stores will of­fer a higher dis­count on a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts with the added con­ve­nience of or­der­ing through ap­pli­ca­tions such as What­sapp.

Seam­less Check­out

Check­out is the last stage of the pur­chase stage, and lesser the time spent more valu­able it is for to­day’s con­sumer. Smart phones are be­com­ing a must-have de­vice for many and slowly the de­fault screen for brand en­gage­ment and dig­i­tal com­merce transactions. Con­sumers seek higher con­ve­nience in all parts of the jour­ney and with the aid of tech­nol­ogy, re­tail­ers are of­fer­ing faster and more seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence in the check­out stage. For ex­am­ple, Per­pule 1Paya mo­bile app, en­ables mo­bile app based self-check­outs and queue man­age­ment so­lu­tions for of­fline stores which en­ables the con­sumer to trans­act seam­lessly.

Last Mile Re-imag­ined

The con­sumers’ quest to shorten and sim­plify the shop­ping jour­ney, pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for the last mile. Their will­ing­ness to spend money to save time drives in­no­va­tion. The open­ness and flex­i­bil­ity that the in­ter­net age has ush­ered in trans­lates well to the new, ever-chang­ing rein­ven­tion. Com­pa­nies such as Flip­kart and Ama­zon are of­fer­ing prod­ucts at ded­i­cated pickup cen­tres. This con­ve­nient ser­vice adds to the ar­ray of op­tions avail­able to the con­sumer, to sim­plify the last mile of the shop­ping jour­ney.

In con­clu­sion, the frame­work for Shop­ping Rein­vented Mega trend and its sub-trends al­lows com­pa­nies to iden­tify and eval­u­ate var­i­ous ar­eas, which can be de­vel­oped fur­ther by in­fus­ing the brand ex­pe­ri­ence in or­der to con­nect with the cus­tomer.

Each ‘stage,’ ‘node’ can be as­sessed in iso­la­tion and mea­sured. A com­pany may only need to target one or two ‘nodes’ to achieve an en­hanced brand ex­pe­ri­ence and cus­tomer en­gage­ment. How­ever, it does work best to con­sider the shop­ping jour­ney holis­ti­cally. In my opin­ion, we have seen that com­pa­nies that are good at Om­nichan­nel en­gage­ment do this bet­ter than oth­ers.

Blended store for­mat of­fered by Fresh­menu through their of­fline store at Kem­pe­gowda In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Bengaluru.

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