By Larry Levin
Think about it: In just the last decade we’ve cut the cord to our shopping experience to such an extent that when we’re not at home (or the office) researching our countless shopping options, then we’re physically in the store standing at the shelf, smartphone in hand. Sometimes we go straight to search and other times directly to a specific retailer’s site.
Despite varying needs and expectations, consumers seemingly want it all: They want an easy, efficient shopping process. They seek a variety of prices. And they want fun and inspiring experiences when they shop – whether online or not.
And, regardless of time or place, consumers are looking for extensive product, pricing and brand research. They’re connected, educated and empowered, always finding creative ways to navigate the evolving shopping landscape.
To keep up, brands and retailers need to do the same.
This should be welcome news. Changes create a vast opportunity for growth and innovation. One recent popular example is the rise of meal subscription services such as Blue Apron, which capitalizes on the desire for convenience. By delivering pre-measured ingredients and simple instructions directly to the consumer’s door, the service removes the need to identify recipes and ingredients, and it saves shopping and prep time.
For the 95 percent of U.S. consumers who have not yet tried a meal subscription service, digital, social and mobile still play a large opportunistic role in consumer packaged goods shopping behavior.
Digital Influences on Shopping
The latest numbers speak for themselves.
Three in four shoppers claim they use online resources to plan shopping trips. That means everything from hunting down recipes to comparing prices to searching for deals is all available via digital channels – and most of us are avidly taking advantage of them.
Meanwhile, roughly one in five shoppers consider digital to be very important in the planning process. Expectedly, this is particularly true of Millennials and Gen X.
Nearly half of all consumers seek coupons and sales online, although they are more likely to search retailer sites than manufacturers’ sites.
Brands and retailers must continue their focus on social media, particularly when it comes to education and meal planning. Social networks like Pinterest are popular for recipe hunting and meal planning, which sets the table for consumers’ overall shopping planning.
E-commerce Trends and Opportunities
Online CPG sales are expected to grow eight times by 2022. CPG brands and retailers that want to capitalize on this opportunity should consider taking the following steps:
1. Upgrade the site experience and be an information destination. Brand, retailer and manufacturer websites should be more than an overview of products and lists. Instead, the website should serve as an information destination with quality content that informs and inspires consumers.
2. Optimize the click & collect experience. Click-and-collect refers to options for shoppers to buy online and pick up their order in stores. IRI surveys reveal that shoppers are attracted to click-and-collect options because they can save time by avoiding crowded store aisles and register lines and save money by avoiding shipping and delivery fees
3. Create a seamless omnichannel experience. It’s much easier to update virtual offerings than it is to update physical structures, so it’s no secret or surprise that digital innovation moves faster than physical innovation. By not integrating them, the result is a fragmented retail landscape that leaves consumers frustrated.
Brands and retailers that improve the customer experience online, across all steps in the path to purchase, will be in the best position to thrive, not just survive as the consumer landscape continues to evolve.
For strategies on improving consumers’ omnichannel and e-commerce experiences, read Innovation That Drives Growth in the Omnichannel Environment and and Best-In-Class Content: The Key to Engaging Shoppers and Elevating E-commerce, and contact me at Larry.Levin@IRIworldwide.com to discuss how we can work together to create new opportunities that connect with consumers.