Carry on shopping

June 17, 2012

An interesting article was circulating this week about the impact of the recession on shoppers and hence how their behaviours had changed.  This got me thinking, always a bit dangerous, but isn’t it a case of the more things change the more they stay the same?

My take on it is this. 

Yes, we are still in recession and yes it has had an impact, but at the same time the same basic challenges still exist for marketing people.  It is still so much about Product, Price, Place etc, but not only are we having to work in more challenging times but then there’s also this thing called the internet. 

What that means is that a) people, and this is all people, have to some extent or another felt the impact of the recession and have therefore adapted their buying behaviours and b) the internet has been a catalyst for those changes. 

If anyone thought that the internet was going to make things easier for everyone then think again. For some maybe it does (make things easier) but for an awful lot of us it actually make things much more complicated.  We’re seeing that more and more with retailers being unable to effectively integrate their online and offline operations.  The internet has given huge power to consumers in their ability to research, compare, review and purchase.  Add in the economic downturn and this has given them real reasons to do more researching, comparing and reviewing.   Then we can’t forget of course that for conventional retailers it is not only about getting it right online – you’ve also got to get the basics right in store too – witness Tesco’s £1bn investment in its store portfolio and customer service!  And then it’s not just about doing that in a vacuum, you’ve got your competitors all experiencing the same pressures and looking to be more competitive themselves. 

So in short you’ve got a perfect storm being brewed up with consumers having to react to the economy combined with this great tool (the internet) to help them react more effectively.  But my point is this, despite the internet, and despite the economy, it still comes back to the obvious fact that success still derives from getting the marketing mix right.  The world has changed, but ultimately isn’t it still the same?

Designs on the future…

February 1, 2010

An interesting piece in this week’s Retail Week from Martha Lane Fox (subscription required). I quote from it here:

“I think stores, especially flagship ones, will not stock so much product and instead become a showcase for the brand with the opportunity to offer experiences and events to shoppers – a way of connecting customers with their values. Customers will then be able to order products via the web and collect them from local depots or central collection points.”

I happen to largely agree with this vision, but the big question is where does that take us? And following on from this, what does it mean in terms of store design and layout? Will shop units need to be so large, and if so what is to be done with all the space that will give us?

All good questions, I trust someone somewhere is looking for some answers.

It’s Cyber Monday

December 7, 2009

For those who didn’t already know it today, Monday 7th December, is set to be the biggest day for online shopping this year. Obviously many of you won’t actually read about this until Tuesday since you will be busy elsewhere in the internet!

Apparently we are likely to spend around £350m, according to IMRG. Interestingly our own research into Christmas shopping showed exactly what we will be both researching on the internet and actually buying this year.

The most popular product categories for ‘researching’ on the internet will remain CDs/DVDs/music (52% of those researching online will look at this category), ahead of books/stationery/cards (43%) and toys and games (40%). However electrical items (43%) appear set to be much more popular for internet research this year compared to our results from last year.

Items that will actually be ‘purchased’ on the internet are again headed by small entertainment goods such as CD/s and DVDs (54% of those who will buy on line will buy within this category), ahead of books/stationery/cards (43%) and toys and games. Internet clothes shopping appears to have fallen back vs. last year, whilst electrical good have held their own. The former may represent the best opportunities for off-line retailers, however we also know that this is the most popular product category for holding back on in anticipation of sales!

Virtual Malls revisited?

November 27, 2009

I know we’ve seen these before, but the latest version seems more interesting; although having said that despite the media coverage it doesn’t actually appear to be live just yet – maybe a case of the PR release going out a little too soon.

Going under the name NearLondon, a new web site will offer a virtual shopping trip around central London, apparently consisting of Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street in a slimmed down SecondLife style.

It appears that a number of major retailers have signed up to NearLondon already, which will allow browsing ahead of any real visits to London, as well as actual purchases to be made online. Interestingly, there is some talk in the media of replacing the traiditonal shop layout with more interesting interfaces: catwalks for fashion and stadiums for sports.

The rise and rise of online shopping

November 18, 2009

Yet again we see a rise in online shopping; this time for clothes. This puts traditional shopping centres in a difficult situation: not only do shopping centres have to compete with online retailers with much lower overheads, but there is the added complication over whether to link from their websites to their retailers’ websites, potentially driving sales traffic away from their centre.

Most centres now do link away from their site. The rationale being that customers will use the internet to find an item they think they like, but come in to the store to look at it in more detail and maybe try it on and buy it. Clothing was seen as good example of this, but as we can see, growth in this particular area has been above all expectations.

From our own recent research, we know that 30% of Christmas Shopping will be done on the Internet this year, with a quarter of shoppers doing more shopping online this year than last.