WorkJam on the Changing Consumer

Power Retail By Power Retail | 23 Jul 2019

Andrew Myers, WorkJam’s Vice President, APAC, explains why retailers need to be willing to change to give consumers what they want.

Unsurprisingly, the key to adapting successfully in today’s shifting market is to understand what those shifts are, where they’re headed, and how they change the overall retail landscape.

Andrew Myers, WorkJam’s vice president of Asia Pacific and global digital strategy, and former Chief Operations Officer at Target Australia explains the four types of challenges facing bricks-and-mortar:

“First, property is always an issue, whether it’s rent, location, or just the size of the store. Next, there’s competition with online, with the storefront becoming more of a showroom. Then, the cost of goods is changing, whether it’s electronics from China being more expensive due to inflation and geopolitical forces, or the cost of produce climbing due to climate challenges. And lastly, there’s inflation in the employee market, as base wages are pushed up in many parts of the world.”

The other thing that’s changing? The customers.

Most every marketer is familiar with the buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness: At this point, the customer isn’t looking for solutions to their problem. In fact, they’re just starting to become aware of what their problem is in the first place.
  • Consideration: The customer knows they have a problem to solve and they’re starting to look at options.
  • Decision: They’ve decided exactly how they want to solve their problem – now they just need to decide on a vendor.

It all sounds neat and tidy. As it turns out, however, this model is becoming outdated. No longer are buyers moving in a straight line down the sales funnel.

Instead, the easy online access to product information, reviews, and competition means the buyer’s journey has become labyrinthine in nature, with customers slipping in and out at every point.

In addition to the buyer’s journey being less straightforward, there is another massive way in which retail has changed as Millennials and Gen Z develop increased purchasing power, and that’s in the rise of community.

In 1990, a typical apparel shopping experience for a 20-year old would have been to head to a shopping centre with friends, browse around the stores, try on some things, make some purchases, and head home. It was done in one trip, with one relatively self-contained unit of influence.

Fast-forward to almost 30 years later.

Now, a 20-year old’s shopping journey might look like this:

  • Seeing a celebrity promoting a brand of jeans on Instagram.
  • Adding her like and her comments to the post along with thousands of other followers, all sharing in their enjoyment of this famous influencer’s style.
  • Going onto Twitter or Reddit and ask where one can find those jeans for the best price, or if anybody else has bought them and what they think of them.
  • Flipping through multiple retailers’ and online marketplaces’ websites, looking at reviews, and checking out customer-submitted photos.
  • Selecting a retailer and putting items in her cart. She may buy the jeans that moment, that day, or a week later. Or, she may decide that those jeans won’t work for her and will start back at square one.
  • Once she does purchase a pair of jeans, she’ll put them on, snap a selfie, and share it with her own community, exerting her own influence in turn.

In short, the customer is fully immersed in an ever-evolving marketplace experience where they shape the image of – and are fully immersed in – the brand well before they even make the purchase.

So what of brick-and-mortar retailers, then? Where do they fit into this picture, and will they be reduced to fighting over crumbs while online shopping and behemoth marketplaces grab the lion’s share of consumers?

Andrew Myers agrees that retailers cannot afford to become complacent, adding, “You can’t keep doing what you’re doing if you’re not experiencing sales growth. People won’t come back on their own or because they saw an ad. You have to be willing to change how you do business and give consumers what they want from a retail experience.”

So, what do consumers want?

  • A consistent and positive brand experience across multiple channels
  • Full-sensory immersion in a sense of community and marketplace
  • Easy access to products and information about those products

In the meantime, retailers are facing increased pressures due to competition from online stores and rising costs.

Next week WorkJam will discuss how retailers can leverage employee engagement as part of the big picture strategy for success.