Retail property group Hammersons recently published their ‘Considered Consumer’ report and it was interesting to note the significant shift over the past year in how consumers are spending and what triggers the initial purchase.
Planned purchasing – Goodbye impulse buys
The report highlighted how planned purchases have increased at the expense of impulse shopping. Not only are consumers being more careful and considered with their spending, the convenience of online shopping is making it easier to compare ranges and prices before purchasing. The fact is that consumers need to justify to themselves that they have covered all the angles before spending their hard earned cash, and the best way this can be done is through physical evaluation in-store, and in person.
Of course, not every sale is accompanied by a personal store visit, but it is definitely a major part of the customer journey for any higher ticket items or those that have more personal impact, such as PC’s, smartphones and home entertainment products.
Almost half of expenditure on non-food is now planned and compared to 12 months ago a third of consumers are impulse shopping less, reinforcing the ‘considered’ nature of shopping today.
People still like buying from people
Where the product is more complex, as with many of today's gadgets, it is now commonplace to find expert sales consultants on hand who can act as trusted advisors to help buyers make an informed and considered decision at the point of sale. These sales personnel are not there merely to help with the basics such as colour and features, but also to help suggest the optimum alternatives for each customer's needs, whatever they may be.
The power of face-to-face marketing
Experience shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium in return for the reassurance which comes from expert guidance on options and brand benefits, especially when they're not subject to ineptly trained sales staff. Retail experts understand the opportunities that come from every single engagement in the last 9 feet of the retail experience and take full advantage of it whenever they can. More than two thirds of consumer spending still goes through shops and, despite the difficult trading conditions many retailers find themselves facing, there is no real sign that the consumer intends to forgo the opportunity to play with the products and compare brands before they buy.
While it's obvious that not every customer engagement on the shop floor is going to result in a sale, this kind of interaction can still have a powerful effect on how the consumer perceives the brand in the future, which opens the door to increased trade-up and replacement business when the need arises.
The retail market is changing rapidly, and the most intelligent brands and retailers are taking the opportunity to change up a gear to meet the challenge. Instead of relying on a product sitting on a shelf and expecting it to sell, the smart brands and retailers are investing time and money in delivering a more engaging and exciting experience to customers at the point of sale. By doing so they are delivering value which will create long lasting loyalty and repeat business.
If you're interested in finding out more about how to drive sales sign up for our free Retail Activation masterclass on 17 September or take a look at the Channel Advantage website.