Active engagement is key on path to purchase
New research from global marketer Epsilon sheds fresh insight on how to influence shoppers on an increasingly convoluted path to purchase.
The firm surveyed 2,800 consumers for its “The Digital Shopping Tool Impact Study 2015” which examined how people are shopping, what’s guiding their purchasing decisions and what tools they are using before, during and after purchase. The research revealed a noticeable shift towards mobile and social digital tools that is changing the very nature of the shopping process.
“Overall, the availability of these tools has resulted in a significant shift in the way shopping takes place,” shared Kim Finnerty, senior vice president, research and insights at Epsilon. “The study shows the process to be more complex and individualized than in the past, with shoppers executing shopping tasks in chunks of activity at times, places and on devices that are most convenient for them. Not only are these “deconstructed” journeys highly individual, but they also vary from one shopping “trip” to the next depending the user’s time constraints, device availability and mood.”
According to the research, a retailer’s social media activity has a greater impact on shoppers than the retailer’s website, pointing to the benefit of investing in active engagement with fans via social media. One of social media’s key strengths is its ability to influence trial of new products and brands. Not surprising, social media is even more influential with Millennials than it is with Boomers. The platform shoppers cite as most influential to their shopping decisions is Facebook, although Pinterest and Google+ are strong contenders. Twitter is much less influential in the shopping process overall, but Millennials state that it is quite influential for them.
“Social media by its nature involves distraction and nonlinear interaction and may be seen as unpredictable by both marketers and shoppers,” Finnerty said. “However, our study shows that social media becomes both useful and influential precisely because there are so many ways to interact with it. Social as part of the shopping journey improves the experience and informs the purchase decision.”
This year, as in the past several years, shoppers point to shopping apps as the tool most likely to improve their shopping experience, by facilitating the process and making them feel like a smart shopper. When shoppers speak about how they use shopping apps, their comments include diverse activities such as creating their shopping list, looking for coupons, checking inventory in-store, checking competitive pricing and reading product reviews.
Findings show that shopping apps have become the bridge between the virtual and real worlds of shopping. More than any other tool, when shoppers discuss using shopping apps, they talk about them in the context of going to the store or being at the store. Additionally, the study shows that the shopping apps most often used by consumers are those that belong to a specific retailer, rather than a brand or third-party. When it comes to coupons, the research unveils that downloading and printing coupons is still a fairly universal phenomenon and one that shoppers continue to find rewarding and influential. 42% of Millennials report using “old school” coupons, compared to 60% of Boomers.
Of those shoppers using printable coupons, Millennials are even more likely than Boomers to say the coupons influenced them to buy products they hadn’t planned, to try new products and to choose one store over another. Learnings from the qualitative portion of the study indicate that people don’t necessarily distinguish between different types of digital coupons in the same way the industry does. They tend to think of coupons delivered digitally to be interchangeable, whether they are printable, mobile-only or Load-to-Card coupons.
The ethnographies uncovered a completely new shopping behavior, driven by Millennials and their use of digital coupons. In these shopper journeys, the study found that shoppers are first finding the item they want to buy and then searching to find a specific coupon to apply to the purchase.
Finnerty added, “Rather than being spurred to action by a lucky encounter with a coupon, as was the case with previous generations, shoppers today take for granted that they can search for whatever they want and when they find it, they will also find a coupon. This is a new level and type of shopper control than most imagined when digital coupons were first introduced and it demands changes in the way brands and retailers interact with shoppers.”
Now in its fourth year, the Digital Shopping Tool Impact Study focuses on the ways in which digital tools are used in the shopping process and the implications for marketers. Epsilon conducted an online survey to a representative sample of over 2,800 primary household shoppers, asking about their usage of 16 digital shopping tools in 12 retail channels and 12 product categories.
The team also conducted a series of in-depth interviews and discussion boards with over 50 shoppers across a variety of ages, genders and U.S. locations, centered on the use of social media and its interaction with several other tools, including email, printable coupons and shopping apps.
Amazon.com’s new day for deals is ‘Prime’ promotion
Amazon.com’s latest gambit to encourage shoppers to buy a $99 Prime membership and goose second quarter sales involves the creation of quasi-holiday called “Prime Day.”
Amazon.com said it was introducing a new global shopping event called Prime Day on July 15 to commemorate its 20th anniversary. To celebrate the company said it will be offering more deals than on Black Friday for those who pay the $99 annual fee to belong to the Prime free-shipping program.
Throughout the day, Prime members in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Austria will be served a steady diet of promotional offers and Amazon.com’s special features called Lightning Deals and Deals of the Day.
“Prime Day is a one-day only event filled with more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members around the globe. Members tell us every day how much they love Prime and we will keep making it better,” said Greg Greeley, vice president Amazon Prime. “If you’re not already a Prime member, you’ll want to join so you don’t miss out on one of the biggest deals extravaganzas in the world.”
To make it easy to participate, the company is offering a free 30-day Prime trial in hopes shoppers will get hooked on a service that now goes well beyond free two-day shipping on 20 million items. More recently, the service has been expanded to offer free same day delivery in 14 metropolitan areas.
Content is also a key part of the Prime value proposition with members receiving unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, more than one million songs, more than one thousand playlists, hundreds of stations with Prime Music and unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive with Prime Photos.
The most recent Prime development involves the introduction of Prime Now one-hour delivery service, for an additional fee, in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Dallas, Manhattan, Miami and London. To get current users talking about the service, part of Prime Day involves a social media component and a contest. Prime members are being given a chance to win a $10,000 gift card by participating in the #PrimeLiving photo contest.
The premise is that Prime members will share some of their happy moments that are reflective of time savings, convenience and access to a broad assortment of merchandise that Prime offers. Members sign into Prime Photos between July 6 and July 15 to submit a photo on the contest page amazon.com/primeliving. Photos will be selected and featured daily on Amazon’s social channels leading up to Prime Day.
One winner will be selected in each country based on the image that most creatively captures a happy moment of #PrimeLiving.
Conn’s is on the move through the South
Specialty home goods retailer Conn’s continues to expand outward from its home state of Texas with several recent openings in key markets pushing the company toward its ambitious 2015 growth plan.
Conn’s currently operates 90 stores and earlier this year announced plans for between 15 and 18 new stores. Over the July 4 weekend the company added two store in North Carolina, a 46,000-sq.-ft. store in Charlotte and a slightly smaller 43,000-sq.-ft. store in Gastonia.
The company also opened a 50,000-sq.-ft. store in Memphis. Conn’s curious description of itself as a “specialty home goods” retailer means the company’s product assortment consists of furniture and mattresses, home appliances, consumer electronics and home office products.
The three new stores are part of Conn’s national growth strategy of opening between 15 and 18 stores during the 12 month period that began February 2015. In addition to the Charlotte and Gastonia locations, Conn’s said it expects to open four additional locations in North Carolina and another Tennessee location is also planned.
In addition to Tennessee and North Carolina, Conn’s also operates stores in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. In recent years, the company has concentrated its expansion efforts on states contiguous to Texas where 55 of its 90 stores are located.