TECHNOLOGY

The new forces shaping the retail industry are…

BY Marianne Wilson

Affluence is out. So are the days of the mass market.

A new report projects 10 years out and reveals three fundamental principles that are shaping tomorrow's consumer packaged goods and retail industries: trust, influence and personalization. In a preview of its 2017 Global Future Consumer study, A.T. Kearney predicts the death of the scale economy that focuses on catering to affluence in favor of one driven by the influence of industry stakeholders, particularly by the hyper-connectivity of the younger generations.

"The 'mass' market is over, for all intents and purposes," said Greg Portell, A.T. Kearney consumer & retail practice leader for the Americas. "Embracing trust, influence and personalization as the new commercial mantra for success will be key for all brands and retailers, global and local, in the future."

The Global Future Consumer study incorporates insights about the future from six consumer generations: the Silent Generation (1928-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), Millennials (1981-1997) and Generation Z (1998-2016). It notes that for the first time in history, 2027 will see six generations making up the consumer market, with dramatic upheaval expected across brands and retailers.

The largest of these six generations will be Gen Z, of whom 50 million in the U.S. alone will reach adulthood within the next 10 years. Gen Z is spearheading a wave of change that has been building for decades. The study highlights changes in the drivers of consumer behavior away from ownership, status and brand loyalty and toward trust, influence and personalization.

The findings pertinent to Western consumers — and also driven by Millennial and Gen Z values — include a major loss of trust in large corporations and brands. Consumers in North America and the European Union in particular are demanding that brands have clearly defined and transparent values. And those values should be consistently demonstrated in everything branders do and in every product or service they bring to market.

Marketing for brands is shifting significantly, too, as reflected in another of the study's findings: the rise of influence over affluence. (Influence is the ability to move markets through the amplified power of an individual voice.) The study defines two types of influencers: macro influencers, such as social media celebrities with millions of followers, and micro influencers, individuals with thousands of followers who are even stronger personal influencers within their virtual communities due to their presumably greater authenticity.

The trend toward personalization — in product offerings as well as marketing methods — has emerged from these larger macro demographic, cultural and economic trends, according to the study. Increasingly tech-savvy consumers, aware that data is the real new commercial currency, are willing to share more personal information and engage in a more intimate relationship with brands. "However, in return they expect more personalized and heightened experiences," the report stated. "The role of traditional marketing segmentation is at best limited, the imperative being to customize to the level of 'markets of one.'”

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Report: Merge physical and digital channels to better target shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

To step up customer-centricity efforts, retailers must use channels in tandem if they want to deliver personalized experiences.

This was according to "Shopper-First Retailing: What Consumers Are Telling us About the Future of Shopping,” a report from SapientRazorfish, part of Publicis.Sapient. The study is comprised of three sources: shopping activity of more than 300 million shoppers worldwide; the preferences and motivations of 6,000 shoppers across six countries, and 27 interviews with retail experts in technology and customer experience.

Retailers struggle with a rapidly evolving set of customer shopping habits, especially as connected customers shop the apparel, housewares, and health and beauty categories. By better leveraging technology and insight into consumer behaviors however, retailers will be positioned to create a customer-centric business, the report revealed.

"With the fluid demands of today's always-on consumer, it's imperative that brands not only evolve with the trends, but also anticipate them and refine their strategies accordingly," said Chris Davey, chief strategist, Publicis.Sapient. "Our findings highlight that customer centricity is not only beneficial, but critical to successful retailing in the digital age.”

According to the report, the following four strategic actions will create a customer-centric, foundation:

The evolving storefront: In-store drives nearly half of e-commerce sales. Digital and physical are complementary channels, not mutually exclusive ones. Most shoppers (60%) start their hunt in the digital channel, even though they prefer shopping in the physical channel.

Immersive Intelligence: Using artificial intelligence (AI) to connect shoppers with products. Predictive intelligence on product detail pages is boosting average order values and overall revenue per visitor by double digits.

Mobile: The digital compass. Mobile payment options continue to boost conversions. Mobile payments, such as Apple Pay, were effective, boosting conversion by 27% at one retail partner compared to non-Apple Pay shoppers.

Flattening the funnel: Optimize mobile traffic with speed and mobile payments. Mobile continues to be a massive resource for retail activity. Seventy-one percent (71%) of all global consumers have used their mobile device for retail activity in the past 30 days.

"Retailers are struggling with a rapidly evolving set of customer shopping habits, and we see these new behaviors in this retail research,” said Hilding Anderson, director of research & insights at SapientRazorfish.

“For example, 59% of all consumers in our six-country study have shopped on their mobile device – in the store – within the past 30 days," Anderson noted. "The lines between the physical and digital channels have nearly disappeared."

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Specialty lamps retailer expands online presence into Canada

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Lamps Plus is making it easier for Canadian shoppers to make a purchase.

The specialty lamps retailer debuted lampsplus.ca, an e-commerce website designed to provide a localized experience in Canada. Canadian shoppers have been purchasing from Lamps Plus ever since the retailer debuted online in 1998. However, the new site specifically targets the Canadian market with prices displayed in CAD dollars.

“Canada has always been an important market for Lamps Plus. However, our focus was growing the U.S. e-commerce site before we launched a Canadian site,” said Dennis Swanson, CEO of Lamps Plus. “With the new site, Lamps Plus will be able to efficiently reach the major population areas, such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, as well as the entire breadth of the country.”

Featuring a large online catalog, Lamps Plus offers product lines available only from the company. Customers can choose online from over 100 colors with the Color Plus lighting collection or among thousands of custom pattern and color options for art shade lighting. As the site matures, the retailer plans to tailor the product line based on input from customers and interior designers, according to the retailer.

Most orders will ship with free standard shipping from the company’s California distribution center. Like its U.S. site, Lamps Plus’ Canadian site is optimized in English only.

“With this new website, we are taking a major step forward in bringing our product line to the country,” said Swanson. “Our e-commerce business continues to grow each year and we should see an exponential increase this year with the enthusiasm that the Canadian marketplace has shown for our lighting and home furnishing designs.”

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