Over the last decades, globalisation and technology have had a major impact on consumer behaviour. Thus, mobile devices have entered our daily life for good, becoming an essential part of our routine, both at a personal and professional level. If fact, these devices take the lion’s share of our current technology usage time-wise. Needless to say, such extensive use has significantly altered our buying and consumption behaviour.
Today, mobile devices make any information readily available, including of course offers or promotions before visiting the store, whereby consumers can advance their purchasing and decision-making processes. For example, there is a growing number of consumers who compare online prices with those at the store before buying the product. Likewise, people at the store increasingly check out product information on their phone before purchasing.
Not surprisingly, mobile devices have become an essential instrument of corporate strategy. Accordingly, online strategies must set goals for macro and micro conversion ratios to properly assess performance. Every website has a clear main goal, and we use conversions (macros conversion in this case) to assess whether goals have been met. As you can imagine, most of the efforts are focused on doing so. On the other hand, this focus on a very small fraction of traffic makes us ignore other goals, which our website (micro conversions) also fulfils. In addition, this encourages brands to include elements at the store for mobile consumer interaction, such as scanning QR codes on product labels.
Beyond information search, the massive use of smartphones and other mobile devices constitutes a key entertainment platform, with an ever-growing content offering. It is with good reason that mobile devices are one of the few elements snatching people away from TV, which has made them one of the leading content consumption platforms. Not least because the quality of mobile content and the accompanying visual effects have grown exponentially in recent times. Therefore, brands and companies seeking to remain relevant will be compelled to adapt their communication to the audio-visual format.
Moreover, the massive use of mobile devices has led to the emergence and spread of mobile applications (apps), the influence of which on our buying behaviour and habits can hardly be overstated.
Chances are you have a mobile app to organise and remind you of your grocery shopping; perhaps an application from one of your favourite brands, which sends real-time information on their offers and new products; most likely, you have also downloaded an app to manage and organise your next trip (buying tickets, hotel reservation, tourist guide, etc.).
A useful app, designed with potential customers in mind, does not only represent a new sales, information and promotion platform, but is also a direct communication channel between the brand and its customers, and a powerful source whereby companies capture information about user behaviour, and execute cross-selling campaigns to offer new products or services of interest.
Simply put, the Internet has changed the rules of the game. On the back of ubiquitous mobile devices, consumers have changed their habits, and continue to do so. In the very near future, common and recurrent behaviours today will become an oddity, or simply disappear. There is no doubt that retailers will need to change and adapt accordingly, even more so than other industries.
In 10 years, according to certain studies – like this one prepared by IBM and referred to by Computer World (http://www.computerworld.com/article/3023345/retail-it/thanks-to-tech-stores-are-evolving-into-showrooms.html), stores will become mere showrooms so that customers, as part of their shopping experience, can physically see, touch and test products, which they will buy online afterwards for home delivery.
In this new operational model, retailers will require real-time information, as well as deploying in-store technology to allow any ordering process. Furthermore, they will offer free and fast shipping to compete effectively with the convenience of in-store buying from stock.
While Ikea – amongst other brands – has already begun to test this new model, its stores work rather as a delivery point, skipping the supply chain for now.
In closing, I would like to stress the fact that we are indeed facing a revolution in consumer habits, the dramatic change of which depicts an exciting future for companies keen to adapt and reap the ensuing opportunities.