Posts Tagged ‘shopping trends’

Serving the new On-Demand Consumer

Posted By Sujith Kosaraju on September 26th, 2009

By many 2009 is called the year of death for retail companies if they don’t constantly thrive and innovate towards serving the customer. Stores have been closing as the consumer spending hit an all time low, big retail chains have been filing for bankruptcy. Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz in a recent TV Interview says “We thought we were recession-proof, but we’re not.”

With ever increasing consumer uneasiness towards the whole economic situation and consumers finding ways to spend money productively and more efficiently, now it is the turn of the retailers who have to spend more time researching what user wants and then serve what he is looking for.

2009 is the year that e-commerce comes of age. It is the leading strategy for any successful multi-channel retailer. The dotcom is no longer just another store; it is the store that drives sales to the other stores.

But what is this all about, is this the death of the big retail chains who don’t spend time to innovate, who don’t evolve or adapt to the new trends of info commerce, who don’t adapt to the changing consumer information search patterns. Retailers have to constantly reduce the gap between online and offline transactions. Some of the important trends or market buzz that the retailers should pay close attention to

Shopping Trends

1. New Shopping Paradigm: The Shifters
2. Multichannel Linking (Online with Offline)
3. Improving your website for Local Searches?
4. Reducing the Gap between information serving to servicing.
5. Leveraging the power of Long Tail Local keywords.

New Shopping Paradigm: The Shifters

A national survey conducted by IBM among 30,000 U.S. consumers has found some encouraging results for the retailers. They have found a valuable category of consumers called the “Shifters” who are changing their shopping habits to deal with shifting budgets and incomes. “Shifters” are none other than shoppers who move their purchases to new retailers which will open up new window of opportunity for retailers.

The trend shows that tighter budgets, prevailing economic conditions and lower confidence have changed fundamentally the way consumer shop today. Two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they are postponing purchases or buying fewer items overall, while 60 percent of consumers indicated they are shopping more often for products on sale and using coupons. In light of this new shopping paradigm, the report warns retailers against relying solely on past purchase patterns to forecast future consumer demand.

Shifters are more valuable to the retailers as they contribute to 30 percent of the entire shoppers segment. The top three reasons for Shifters to buy products from any retailer is the Price/Promotion, Local Convenience and Product Availability which opens up new opportunities to retailers to tap this ‘Shifters’ with information that he is looking for at the convenience of his time.

Multichannel Linking (Online with Offline)

The “Initiation Point” of Commerce

Not long ago, we can recall the days where e-commerce was at a nascent stage where consumers had to depend solely on the Retailer Store staff to find information about a product. Current information search patterns have changed tremendously on the way how consumers typically find product information.

Product Search Cycle:

Customers today often bypass retailers and start their product research directly with the manufacturer. Along the way, customers may consult with hundreds of other consumers who’ve purchased the product before by simply researching on the Internet.

Retailers who package goods online for sale might be completely ignored until the product has been decided by the consumer or till he finds the best deal. The transparency of the online medium has put the consumer firmly in control of the purchase process.

So the question now arises whether Online is the future of Offline? Yes, the Jupiter Research, historically one of the most bullish analyst firms has stated that e-commerce is “maturing” but that the Internet will influence “a trillion” dollars in in-store sales by 2010. So for retailer it’s more about empowering the consumers and giving them the tools and the information they need to make the right purchase decision.

According to the recent consumer surveys conducted by Nielsen and Yahoo Search on online consumer retail purchase behavior has showed that 80% of consumers have bought from a store whose Web site they visited first.

While only twelve percent of shoppers go and buy direct from a manufacturer’s website, the amount of commerce that is carried out on the Web is several times as much, you can maximize your multi-channel performance with up-to-date stock information for your authorized online retailers as well as local outlets. This allows you to give the consumer more of the choice they want to complete the purchase where, when and how they prefer.

Go Local: Make your website Local Targeted

In this busy world every one requires relevant information at an identifiable place which increases the chance of a lead turning into a customer. This short span is where any retailer with a website has to enthuse the customer with the required product and by Go-Test place finder.

Consider how easy it would be if you are searching for a laptop and the relevant website retailer throws up a product page with the closest Sony showroom retailer to your place. Challenge for any e-commerce retailer is to tune their website targeting more of local searches than broadly optimizing for generic product searches.

A consumer looking for a local retailer, entertainment outlet, or service business is often much closer in time to a buying decision, and their level of interest is greater. “Local clicks” very often represent better leads and convert better than general clicks.”

So how do I make my website leverage local targeted traffic, these are few simple answers to the retailers and websites.

o Make Product information readily available on your website.
o Show Local stores with product in stock.
o Offer contact information and ways to reach the local store.
o Provide Flexible buying options When, Where and how they want.
o Route the information to your local store and Connect to the customer in short time.

Reducing the Gap between information serving to servicing

Sites that rely heavily on lead generation should churn out information quickly with faster service times.

The instant access to information on the Internet has created the expectation that everything should be rapidly available – from complete product guides to images shopping comparisons to reviews and choice of product delivery. Shoppers expect that prices and points-of-sale can be easily compared. Added to this the short attention spans of Online Shoppers is another important factor to consider while serving the information to the shoppers.

According to Jason Burby: “Often what makes or breaks the sale is your offline conversion process. You can easily swing 50 percent depending on a few variables:

* How quickly does follow-up occur? Numerous studies show the quicker follow-up occurs, the higher likelihood of a sale.

* How good is the person following up? Is she polite? Does she represent the brand? Is she easy to work with?

* How well can the salesperson customize his story? The salesperson knowing specifically what the prospect was interested in rather than asking how he can help the prospect will make a big difference.

Retailers must balance attitudinal measurements as well as measure the impact of offline follow-up as they make site changes. Often, offline follow-up can be the key to closing those leads coming through the Web channel.”

These things don’t really feel connected to your site, but as they — and offline conversions as a result — fluctuate, your Web channel’s value will fluctuate as well. Make sure you take the time to understand their impact and invest in improving them.

Leveraging the power of Long Tail Local keywords

Today most of the searches that are carried on the internet are not of generic in nature but are pure long tail keywords. So a long tail keyword is a combination of 3-6 words that are specific and relevant to the products that you sell. In simple terms, any generic keyword that has product features, Model number, SKU no. price range, etc. can be taken as a long tail keyword.

Long Tail keywords vs. Generic keywords

An online user who is using short tail keywords (generic keywords to be specific) such as “digital camera” may be looking for different brands/models available in digital camera category or might be conducting some research on how digital camera works. So it is better to make your category pages filled with short keywords. Example: Digital Camera, Desktop, etc…

The Real Truth about Long Tail Keywords:

* Can easily rank in search engines
* Will not have too much competition
* Will not be present in keyword database because search volume is very minimal
* Can boost conversion (but depends on various factors, we shall see this in later part of our article)

So make your product pages more long tail keyword rich by following these simple strategies

Use general keywords in the website home page – Example: Camera & Photo

Use category specific keywords in category pages – Example: Digital Camera

Use brand specific keywords in brand category pages – Example: Canon Digital Camera

Use long tail product keywords in the specific product page – Example: Canon Digital Camera 7.1mp with 3x Optical Zoom

“Long tail keywords can bring conversion only if your website (landing page) content is relevant to the search phrase along with the availability of other landing page hygiene factors.”