Ecommerce remains a small proportion of retail overall, but the influence online communication has on offline shopping has grown dramatically. The challenge for retailers is to maximise the value of that online influence.
That was the key message from Jim Mason, Executive Director of Strategy & Insights at agency Razorfish UK, to delegates at Adobe’s EMEA Summit (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent organisation).
“Online sales have reached about nine percent of retail, “ he said, “but 43% of sales are influenced by online.”
Mason argued that people’s basic wants and needs have remained constant, but what has changed are the tools that retailers can use to meet them. And the main area of change is around information. Shoppers now have access to information that simply wasn’t available before, whether that’s product information or the views of other consumers. So his first challenge to retailers was to be experts in the products they sell.
“The reason people pull their phones out in stores is to get more information,” he said. “The question is whether they’re getting that information from you or from elsewhere. We believe that you’re better off if it’s from you.”
And he gave examples of stores using QR codes or display-mounted tablets to allow shoppers to see more product information.
He also talked about the revolution in available information created by social media reviews.
“The principle of personalisation is people wanting to follow the lead of ‘individuals like us’,” he said. “Yelp for example has used information to trump brand and allowed small businesses to take on much larger ones. But most sales still happen offline, so how do we take that social proof in-store?”
Mason showed coat-hangers in a Brazilian clothing chain that display the number of likes the garment on them has on Facebook, and tags in a French consumer electronics store that use low-energy screens to display social media reviews. But he argued that what matters is not the specific technology used.
“It’s not about the tech, it’s about enabling the relationship with the customer and meeting those basic human needs.”
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