Monthly Archives: February 2017

How successful are Retailers in the Omnichannel?

Bricks and Clicks (B&C) retailing is with us for more than two decades. The adding of the online channel to their physical business has allowed retailers to survive and grow even during tough trading conditions.  However, a recent report by Andria Cheng in eMarketer suggests that B&C retailers are struggling to the get their omnichannel strategies to work.

Andria refers to a 2016 survey of about 350 retail and consumer goods CEOs in countries such as the US and China. The survey was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for JDA, a supply chain software provider for retailers from Ann Taylor parent company Ann Inc. to grocer Albertsons. Several worrying aspects about the use of the omnichannel in the retail industry came to the fore with this survey.

How effective are Bricks and Clicks retailers using the omnichannel?

The reasons for retailers to become Bricks and Clicks were discussed previously by this author: “Crossing the digital threshold – adding Clicks to Bricks for sustainable retail outcomes”.  However, the implementation of an omnichannel retail strategy seems not that straightforward.

Results from the survey commissioned by PwC (reported by eMarketer) indicated the following:

  • More than half of retailers haven’t started implementing, are struggling to define or don’t even have plans to develop a “digital transformation strategy”.
  • Only 10% of CEOs say they are able to make a profit while fulfilling omnichannel demand because of delivery and other supply chain complexities.
  • 75% of retail executives said their online operating costs as a percentage of sales have seen either “significant” or “some” increase in the past 12 months. One key driver of that increase: 74% of retailers said customer returns are hurting profit to “a great extent” or “to some extent.”
  • CEOs, especially those in the soft-lines (like apparel) and hard goods (like appliances) sectors, said that their greatest concern is inventory exhaustion, or “out of stock.” Out of stock is a big problem hurting retailers’ ability to convert sales when consumers visit stores.
  • More than half (51%) of respondents said they offer or plan to offer pick up in store in the next 12 months.
  • With the high costs of free shipping and other delivery offers, 33% of survey respondents said they would offer same-day delivery in 2017, down from 44% last year. Meanwhile, a third of respondents said they plan to increase the minimum order value. The percentage of retailers offering specific delivery time slots also has declined.
  • Almost three-fifths of retailers surveyed said they have no plans to reduce their store investment and said their online sales are “additional” sales that aren’t hurting their physical store sales.
  • Automation and internet of things rank lower on their investment list for now, even though these are the areas that are gaining ground as retailers consider them “true game changers,” according to the survey.

Digital technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and self-service technology (SST) are for long now available for retailers to use.

How to add digital technology seamlessly to your retail business

Digital communication technology is part of the retail setup and is here to stay.  However, retailers are reluctant to adopt the technology for a number of reasons. Retailers should consider the following when deciding to add digital:

  1. Visualize what your business will achieve by adding digital and how your customers will respond to it;
  2. Develop a business plan to integrate the digital with the physical operations of your business;
  3. The integration will cost you money – find out how much and where the funds will come from;
  4. Before your spend a cent on it – discuss and argue the process with all the stakeholders – allow everyone to have their say;
  5. If possible, do a quick survey with your customers to get their opinion on the matter;
  6. Once everyone has agreed with the integration, develop and implement an integration strategy;
  7. Measure the results and make corrections as the process moves forward;
  8. If you lose money continuously, start again or discard the process.

Most of the reactions of the CEOs coming from the PwC survey can probably be because they didn’t plan properly. To be honest, failing to plan is planning to fail.

A strategic planning session

Concluding

The digitization of retail is as revolutionary as it gets. Not only that, it is disruptive. Integrating the digital with the physical is no more ‘a nice to have’. Retailers ignoring the revolution facilitated by digital communication technology, and driven by their customers 1, will fail. Strategic planning may help retailers to do the integration orderly and seamlessly. Only then retailers can enjoy success in the omni retail channel.

Note:

1 Picot-Coupey, K., Huré, E. and Piveteau, L. 2016. Channel design to enrich customers’ shopping experiences: Synchronizing clicks with bricks in an omni-channel perspective–the Direct Optic case. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 44(3):336-368.

Further reading

  1. How do Customers Respond to Self-Service Technology in Retail Shops?
  2. Artificial Intelligence – Digital Outcomes or Digital Disruptions for Retailers?
  3. Retail and the Internet of Things

Images:

  1. Flickr.com
  2. Wikimedia

Generation Y, Showing the Way for Retailers in the Digital Age

Generation Y or Millenniums, comprises of individuals that were born between 1980 and 1994, and make up about 25% of the world’s population. Gen Y is therefore an important cohort for retailers to target because of its size and purchasing power. Retailers, as with the other generational cohorts (Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Z), need to know what the shopping behaviors of the Gen Yers are. But first we need to know who Generation Y is?

Who is Generation Y?

Generation Y individuals came of age during a period of economic growth, a strong emergence of social media and reality television, and the disappearance of modernist values, supported by internationalization and strong influences from popular culture 1. They are perceived as more focused on living large and carefree compared to more serious previous generations.

Some describes the Millenniums as most diverse; underemployed; lazy; entitled; self-centered spoiled brats. However, most of them feel frustration, fear, doubt and even anxiety taking their first steps “in the real world”. Since they are most of the time connected to the internet, Generation Y hears the ‘bad’ news about inflation, unemployment; changes in public policies in real time. Digital communication technology is part of Gen Y’s existence.

The Millenniums have grown up with technology and it has captured their lives. Hussein 2 (2016) stated that 87% of Generation Y always had their smartphones at their side, day and night. Further, he said, 78% of them spend over 2 hours a day using their smartphones, and 68% considers their smartphone to be a personal device.

“Gen Yers are multi-taskers who use their mobile phones for just about anything: social networking, to find a job, and to get grassroots-generated information about products, services, schools, employers and travel destinations” suggests Parment 1 (2013).

Also, Generation Y actively contributes, shares, searches for and consumes content – plus works and plays – on social media platforms 3.  The table below, published by the American Press Institute, indicates how and when Gen Yers use different social media network sites.

How Millennials use different social media network sites

Used daily Used occasionally
Facebook 57 31
YouTube 29 54
Instagram 26 23
Twitter 13 21
Pinterest 10 25
Reddit 8 15
Tumblr 7 14

 

Fifty seven percent of Millenniums indicated that they use Facebook daily, while 54% used YouTube occasionally. How can retailers engage with this tech savvy and connected cohort?

The shopping behaviour of Generation Y

Retailers that understand the shopping behaviour of their customers may enjoy an advantage over their competitors. Generation Y are generally not loyal customers. Therefore retailers should provide them superior customer value or any other advantage, such as a lower price 1. Gen Yers are very flexible in terms of buying expensive and cheap products – to define themselves.

Gen Y buyers select and consume products that helps to define them. The products must show what is important to them and what they value in life. They will choose products that express some aspect of their own personality or image. Hence the Millenniums visit numerous shops regularly, in effort to stay in tune with what is ‘in’ at the moment. As a result they often visit clothing stores without having a pronounced need.

The Millennials – the largest generation in US history – are entering their peak spending years. Lindsay Drucker Mann, a vice president in Global Investment Research at Goldman Sachs, explains how companies are responding to their growing economic influence:


However, the Y Generation is  the cohort that does most of their shopping online.

Online shopping behavior of Generation Y

The association that Gen Y has with digital communication technology makes the internet an obvious channel for retailers to interact with them. However, cautions Parment 1 (2013), Generation Y wants to decide when, where and how companies communicate with them. They take the opinion of others into account when making a buying decision.

Retailers should note that Generation Y freely discusses various issues with their friends on social media platforms like Facebook. Gen Y considers friends to be credible sources that have a big influence of how this cohort evaluates products and brands4.

Jaz Frederick, writing in PFSWeb.com highlighted some trends among Millennials and online shopping:

  • the average consumer aged 18 to 34 invests $2,000 per year on digital retail sites;
  • millennials show the highest growth (32%) in mobile sales;
  • smartphones are the most-used shopping device for the Y Generation.

Retailers need to be found online and make sure that Millennials have great experience when visiting their pages.

Concluding

The Generation Y is a complex cohort. Nevertheless, they are the generation who must lead humanity into the digital age. The Millennials will dictate to retailers what technology to use and what content they want. Ultimately, Gen Y is paving the way for all of us to face the realities of the digital age. Please have patience with them…

Read also:

  1. Selling to the Young Ones, Generation Z
  2. Know Your Clever, Less Distinctive Customers – Generation X
  3. Shopping Behavior of The Baby Boomers
  4. Demographic Segmentation – Dividing the Market by Generations

Notes:

1 Parment, A. 2013. Generation Y vs. Baby Boomers: Shopping behavior, buyer involvement and implications for retailing. Journal of retailing and consumer services, 20(2):189-199.

2 Hussein, Z. 2016. Assessing the purchase intention of Malaysian Generation Y in mobile shopping. IJASOS-International E-journal of Advances in Social Sciences, 2(5):424-431.

3 Bolton, R.N., Parasuraman, A., Hoefnagels, A., Migchels, N., Kabadayi, S., Gruber, T., Komarova Loureiro, Y. and Solnet, D. 2013. Understanding Generation Y and their use of social media: a review and research agenda. Journal of Service Management, 24(3):245-267.

4 Viswanathan, V. and Jain, V. 2013. A dual-system approach to understanding “generation Y” decision making. Journal of consumer marketing, 30(6):484-492.

Image:

Pixabay.com

Know Your Clever, Less Distinctive Customers – Generation X

Generation X, which refers to those born from the mid-sixties to late seventies is one of the most highly educated generations in history and is characterized by technological and media savvy, skepticism and pragmatism 1. Above all, these shrewd customers usually make informed purchasing decisions and often search the internet for the best deals. So what makes Generation X different from other generational cohorts?

Gen X grew up with both parents in the workforce, or in a divorced household, causing many of this generation to become independent at a young age 2. This generation is described as experiencing social insecurity, rapidly changing surroundings, and a lack of solid traditions. Members of this cohort are said to have the following characteristics 3:

  • Value autonomy and independence
  • Thrive to open communication
  • View work from an action-oriented perspective
  • Do not believe in “paying dues”
  • Seek to acquire skills and expertise
  • Do not have long term loyalty to a company (but are loyal to individuals)
  • Believe in balancing work-life objectives
  • Are reluctant to take on leadership roles

“Like their namesake suggests, Gen Xers are less distinctive than other generations. And they know it!” says Paul Taylor, executive vice president for special projects at the Pew Research Center. Therefore retailers should  know how Generation Xers behave when shopping…

The shopping behavior of Generation X

Generally, generation X shoppers can be categorized by their keen understanding of marketing and media. Indeed, research is crucial for these individuals – they use the web to reinforce their existing opinions on brands and products, rather than to form them to begin with (RetailPro). Nelson Baber 4  did a study  on how marketing practices should be adapted to today’s technology-driven culture. He found that Generation X spend half their time watching television – more than they spend on the Internet.  However, Gen X will respond to television advertising as well as research information on the Internet. Therefore, Barber suggests products targeted toward Generation X should have informative advertisements on both venues that contain detailed advertising copy.

Generation X shopping online

Generation Xers are known to be shrewd online shoppers that spend nearly 40 hours per week shopping online. Therefore retailers with internet shopping sites should avoid too many pictures or advertisement copy that would cause skepticism among this group. Barber 4 suggests that advertisers present product information in a straightforward manner and allow users to share the site or product-specific selection with friends through e‑mail links or connections to social media. The table below lists some of the facts regarding internet use by Generation X.

Facts on Internet Usage among Generation X (Statista, 2013)

Internet Profile
Internet users in the USA 58.2 million
Mobile internet penetration (worldwide) 66%
Social Media
Facebook account ownership (worldwide) 81%
Number of social network sites in the US 44 million
Median number of Facebook friends (US) 200
Online Shopping and Spending
Average online spending in the US $561
Share of making purchases worldwide 68%
Books are the most purchased item 38%

 

The data as shown in the table indicate that Generation X loves the internet, social media and online shopping. Importantly, online – and Bricks and Mortar retailers targeting Gen Xers should take their behavior and outlook on life into account to achieve their lasting patronage.

Concluding

The last say about the shopping behavior of Generation X is best summarized by Lissitsa 1 and Kol, 2016. “Gen X is highly sophisticated in its buying behavior and is turned off by slick and generalized promotions. They still makes purchases based on traditional search and decision-making methods. They want to hear the features of the product as well as an explanation of why these features are necessary. Moreover, Gen X have an attitude of risk avoidance and a low capacity for risk. Lastly, as consumers, Gen X looks for customer convenience, community relations, and branding. They have a reputation of being incredibly disloyal to brands and companies.”

Read also:

  1. Selling to the Young Ones, Generation Z
  2. Shopping Behavior of The Baby Boomers
  3. Demographic Segmentation – Dividing the Market by Generations

Notes:

1 Lissitsa, S. and Kol, O. 2016. Generation X vs. Generation Y–A decade of online shopping. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 31:304-312.

2 Acar, A.B. 2014. Do intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors differ for Generation X and Generation Y. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 5(5):12-20.

3 Ordun, G. 2015. Millennial (Gen Y) consumer behavior their shopping preferences and perceptual maps associated with brand loyalty. Canadian Social Science, 11(4):40-55.

4 Barber, N.A. 2013. Investigating the potential influence of the internet as a new socialization agent in context with other traditional socialization agents. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 21(2):179-194.

Images:

Wikimedia.org

Pexels.com