TECHNOLOGY

The #1 factor influencing where consumers shop is …

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Price is not the only factor that influences where consumers choose to shop.

Sixty-eight percent of customers said cost was the top factor that influences where they shop, according to data from Uberall, a location marketing solution provider. The runner up was proximity, which 55% of people chose as the reason for picking a store. Rounding out the top-five responses were product selection (53%), online customer reviews or ratings (36%) and brand loyalty (34%).

“Today’s shoppers value cost and convenience when deciding to shop in-store… brand loyalty has taken a backseat,” said Josha Benner, co-founder of Uberall, Inc. “When planning a shopping trip to physical stores, shoppers often want to know what location is closest to them for convenience, but they also want more information about what products or services each location has to offer and at what cost.”

When it comes to finding their closest store, 81% of customers are likely to use a store finder on a retailer’s website. When asked how likely the respondents were to use a store finder on a retailer or brand’s website, 42% said they were “very likely,” while 39% are “somewhat likely” to use the tool.

More than 80% of people conduct “near me” mobile searches, according to the study.

“One of the easiest ways to figure that out is by visiting a store’s website,” Benner explained.

“Store locator pages answer a lot more questions than just a listing,” he added. “Too many retailers are assuming search engines will do this work for them. But that’s not enough. Many consumers are still going to brand websites for local store and shopping information.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Walmart’s online grocery service hits two big milestones

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is making good on its promise to get online grocery orders into more shoppers’ hands faster.

On Monday, Walmart announced that it now offers grocery delivery in 50 metro areas across the United States. By launching grocery delivery earlier this month in Akron, Ohio, the company is halfway to its goal of offering the service to 100 metro areas, which equates to 40% of U.S. households.

Walmart added that “more locations on the way,” according to a blog on the company’s website.

Walmart uses many partners to get these deliveries into shoppers’ hands. Earlier this month, the company began testing a crowd-sourced delivery platform service, called Spark Delivery.  In April, the discounter teamed up with on-demand delivery service Postmates to streamline its grocery deliveries. Uber and Deliv have also been helping Walmart test deliveries in select markets, including Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa and San Jose.

In addition to its delivery milestone, on Sept. 20, Walmart began receiving orders at its newest Grocery Pickup location in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With this new location, the company now features more than 2,000 pickup locations across the U.S. where customers can place an order online and pick up their groceries curbside.

By the end of this fiscal year, Walmart expects to have 2,140 access points in 430 markets, covering 69% of all households in the U.S., according to the company.

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Five holiday predictions

BY Marianne Wilson

In advance of the 2018 holiday rush, here are five predictions for the upcoming shopping season from Ryne Misso, director of marketing for Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions:

*Stores reclaiming their place under the tree
Holiday 2017 saw a resurgence in enthusiasm towards Black Friday in-store shopping. The resurgence was attributed to several factors, from a strengthening economy, to retailers removing timing restrictions on their sale events. Another factor that should gain even more traction during holiday 2018 is retailers using their physical store locations as value differentiators.

We expect to see more in-store events (like Walmart’s holiday parties in 2017), more opportunities for shoppers to demo new products (like Best Buy’s VR demos in 2017), and other creative experiences that shoppers can only enjoy by visiting a store location.

*Voice commerce will become more than just a blip on the radar
Amazon sold more than one million smart home devices on Prime Day this year. Alexa technology has penetrated a huge number of American households—enough so that voice commerce may drive a relevant portion of sales during the upcoming holiday season. Look for Amazon to incentivize holiday shopping through Alexa-connected devices, further training the US consumer base on how to use voice commerce to meet their needs regularly.

*Would you like a turkey with that Echo?
As we saw in the lead up to Prime Day, Amazon has fully embarked on incentivizing cross-shopping between Amazon.com and Whole Foods stores. Between the spend $10, get $10 promotional incentive for Prime Day, and the launch of Prime delivery at Whole Foods locations in close to 40 cities, grocery is irrevocably a focus for Amazon.

We don’t anticipate that changing during the holiday shopping season. Expect Amazon to offer Black Friday shopping incentives to those shopping for their Thanksgiving feasts at Whole Foods, and vice versa. And don’t be surprised to see grocery and durables products included in the same holiday promotion, such as a free Echo Dot with the purchase of a turkey at Whole Foods.

*Walmart will enhance holiday shopping experience using stores and technology
Walmart’s strong 2018 is a testament to the continued development of their omnichannel offerings, and they’re not slowing down heading into holiday. In addition to the re-launch of the Jet.com site, expect to see Walmart push the envelope this holiday season by integrating their stores with their announced technology enhancements.

Among these new experiences could be catching a driverless ride to a holiday store party (via Walmart’s work with Waymo), Black Friday-specific click & collect fulfillment, in-store Thanksgiving cooking demos, and other experiences that offer shoppers experiences that Amazon cannot.

*Pulling forward New Year’s resolutions
Over the past few holiday shopping seasons, we’ve seen retailers knocking down barriers and stocking categories outside their normal purview in order to drive holiday traffic. Think Kohl’s offering flat-screen TVs, or grocery stores offering an expanded assortment of toys & games. This trend is sure to continue this holiday season, but also expand to hot consumer categories, such as health and wellness. Look for retailers to jump on the health and wellness trend by not only expanding their assortment in the category, but also by partnering with popular health and wellness experience brands like SoulCycle, CorePower, or Orangetheory on holiday-specific promotions that incentivize cross-shopping.

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