Monthly Archives: May 2017

Shopping Tips

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has some tips to help you get the most for your money.

  1. Shop around. A “sale” price isn’t always the “best” price. Some merchants may offer a sale price on an item for a limited time; others may discount the price on the same item everyday. Having an item’s manufacturer, model number, and other identifying information can help you get the best price for the item you want.
  2. Read sale ads carefully. Some may say “quantities limited,” “no rain checks,” or “not available at all stores.” Before you step out the door, call ahead to make sure the merchant has the item in stock. If you’re shopping for a popular or hard-to-find item, ask the merchant if he’d be willing to hold the item until you can get to the store.
  3. Take time and travel costs into consideration. If an item is on sale, but it’s way across town, how much are you really saving once you factor in your time, your transportation, and parking?
  4. Look for price-matching policies. Some merchants will match, or even beat, a competitor’s prices — at least for a limited time. Read the merchant’s pricing policy. It may not apply to all items.
  5. Go online. Check out websites that compare prices for items offered online. Some sites also may compare prices offered at stores in your area. If you decide to buy online, keep shipping costs and delivery time in mind.
  6. Calculate bargain offers that are based on purchases of additional merchandise. For example, “buy one, get one free,” “free gift with purchase,” or “free shipping with minimum purchase” may sound enticing. If you don’t really want or need the item, it’s not a deal.
  7. Ask about sale adjustments. If you buy an item at regular price and it goes on sale the next week, can you get a credit or refund for the discounted amount? What documentation will you need?
  8. Ask about refund and return policies for sale items. Merchants often have different refund and return policies for sale items, especially clearance merchandise

Mind-Blowing Stats About Online Shopping

Online shopping has become a multibillion-dollar revenue stream–not to mention it has completely turned the path to purchase on its head.

What retailer doesn’t want a piece of that growing pie? This is where multichannel marketing comes into play. Any successful online marketing strategy, however, begins with understanding–and then catering to–consumers’ various shopping patterns and preferences.

To start you on your way, here is a glimpse into the online purchase habits of the modern-day shopper.

1. Online shopping retail sales are predicted to grow steadily to $370 billion in 2017, up from $231 billion in 2012.

2. Consumers ages 25 to 34 lead the way in smartphone usage in-store, comparing prices, reading reviews, buying products, and engaging with brands on social media while in physical stores.

3. Seventy-two percent of Millennials research and shop their options onlinebefore going to a store or the mall.

4. Nearly 50 percent of Millennials say they regularly browse for items that they don’t necessarily plan on buying.  Thirty-six percent say they only buy items they deem necessary–for which one-third are willing to pay full price.

5. Online retail revenue saw an 11 percent year-over-year growth rate for the first quarter of 2014, with online orders up 13 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

6. In the first quarter of 2014, retail revenue generated via a mobile device was up 35 percent over last year’s first quarter, with mobile owning 13.7 percent of total e-commerce orders in Q1 2013 compared to 18.5 percent during Q1 2014.

7. Adults 50 years old and above represent the Web’s largest constituency, comprising one-third of the total 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S.

8. Two-thirds of Americans 50-plus buy from e-retailers online.

9. Forrester found that more than three-quarters of 57,499 U.S. online adults surveyed had ordered products or services online. And while Gen Y adults (ages 24 to 32) are the most likely to have done so, Gen Xers (ages 33 to 46) spend the most.

10. With an average $561 in spending, Gen Xers spend about 15 percent more online than Gen Yers ($489), and roughly 25 percent more than the average online adult ($449).

11. Overall, satisfaction with online shopping is high, at 83 percent. However, it drops below 50 percent when shoppers are asked about, specifically, flexibility to choose delivery date; ability to choose a specified time of day for delivery of purchase; flexibility to reroute packages; and a green shipping option.

12. Indeed, today’s online shoppers are looking for a variety of flexible optionsfrom retailers; 62 percent also want to buy items online and make returns in-store, and 44 percent want the ability to buy online and pick up their purchases in a store.

Future Shopping

Historically, retail is the dipstick of social change; what made a good store in 1600, or in 1900, or even 2000, and what makes a good store today are different.

Those differences are a reflection of the evolution of us. The changes have been about gender, or who we sell what to; economic circumstances; and, of course, technology, which has altered both our ability to understand and access goods.

Retail change is accelerating as the mantle of consumption is passed from a retiring generation of baby boomers to a millennial generation that is in its genetic prime: finding partners, having children and pumping up spending. But particularly in North America, that millennial generation is also battling downward mobility and the appetite for goods that many cannot afford.

Thirty years down the road, much of the change in retail is going to be driven by a complete reformulation of the relationship between how we make the stuff, how we sell the stuff and how we consume the stuff.

Four trends to watch:

Malls are becoming “alls.” In the recent past, malls would begin and end with Contempo Casuals, Borders and french-fry-filled food courts. But this aging model has already started to transition into a fully functional lifestyle center. The mall of tomorrow will have all the apparel, consumer-electronics and general-merchandise options, but alongside it will be gyms and innovative fitness centers, medical services and even schools, grocery stores and luxury spas.

The mall across the world delivers an important experience in many emerging markets. The three key offerings are physical safety, a hygienic place and climate control. In a world where turmoil is unlikely to disappear completely even 30 years into our future, going to the mall will still have equity. We will go to the mall to be entertained and live our lives; to recreate, not just to shop.

The artisanal movement will flourish. Artisanal goods—stuff made in a nonfactory setting that we are willing to pay a premium for—are the new must-have. Call it the durability of craft; whether hand-knit sweaters or stinky cheese, homemade is cool again.

 Homemade is a brand in itself; things we cannot commoditize. We see this piece of the future in the health of the farmers-market movement. Eliminating the middleman, the makers or farmers of stuff can find their markets and—if they work efficiently—make a modest living.

We see it also in Etsy, an online site where people buy and sell artisanal goods, and Murray’s Cheese, an online business where acquisition is crossed with a romantic element of consumption. Can we assume that 30 years into our future our computers will allow us not only to see but also to feel and smell the things we shop for? It is not out of the question.

This is also about the counter trend of being local. It is about a need to be different and nostalgic for things that are timeless and somehow pure. How much will this market represent? Probably no more than 15% to 20% of our consuming economy. Access to the artisanal market is predicated on the financial resources to afford it.

Apparel in the future will be personalized—and tailored to our unique proportions. The apparel factory of our future is robotic and compact. In Seoul, the epicenter of the digital world, we see the prototypes of that future shop where—on the showroom floor—you have a body scanner linked to a magic box that cuts, stitches and glues. What comes out the other side is simple and basic in 2015, but in it, we see our future.

Indeed, that combination of a personal shopping “bot” that knows all our measurements and manages our closet will take the guesswork out of lots of purchases and give us both customization and uniformity. Thus the distance between factory and point of sale could be a few feet or few miles, but not across the ocean. That shopping bot works both in store and online.

Mobile retail will have two means. First is the way our smartphones now link us to a digital e-commerce universe. The second definition is retail that comes to us. Both in the sense of a farmers market that opens once a week on a specific street corner, but also a new version of the peddler’s wagon that finds us at the beach, the football game or on the street corner. It curates its goods and gets us at happy, if not vulnerable, moments.

Retail and shopping in the next 30 years will be an incredible evolution to watch. Yes, we still will be shopping 30 years from now. The merchants and chains of yesterday and today will be largely gone. Retail has always been about birth, life and death; and just as in organics, that death ends up as compost that regenerates.

Consumer shopping behavior

The chasm between online retail and its brick-and-mortar counterpart is expanding, and people’s shopping preferences are evolving in turn. For storefronts, traffic and sales are declining, leaving retailers with little choice but to adapt to an interconnected world and to their customers’ shifting expectations of the shopping experience.

A great deal of research focuses on how consumers shop, but the rationale behind their chosen behaviors remains somewhat underserved. This article bridges that gap by capturing consumers’ decision-making processes—in their own words, from in-depth interviews (indicated throughout the article in italicized text), and combining these insights with secondary research that adds context, resulting in a closer look into the minds of modern retail consumers.

The shopping journey and its R’s

Three factors are evolving the shopping process and empowering consumers. Lucky for us, they all begin with the letter R: research, recommendations, and returns.

The proliferation of digital technology is giving consumers access to an unprecedented amount of product information. Not only is more information available, consumers are increasingly accessing this information—and doing their own “homework” before visiting a retailers’ venue to make their purchase. In 2014, a Deloitte study1 found that digital data influenced 49 percent of consumers before they made an in-store purchase, and analysts expect this proportion to grow to 64 percent in 2015. For some categories, particularly electronics (62 percent) and home furnishings (59 percent), destination shoppers (who have already chosen which product they want to buy from a retailer) are outnumbering traditional information gatherers who browse in stores before deciding what to buy (see figure 1).2

Historically, consumers lost their leverage once they made a purchase.3 That is no longer the case: Retailer-sponsored content—advertisements, user guides, retailer blogs, etc.—are losing out to user-generated content and reviews as the predominant influencers of purchase decisions. Consumers feel more comfortable searching online and reading expert reviews and user opinions as a first step in gathering initial information about a product or service. As evidence, Deloitte’s Digital Democracy survey4 reveals that personal recommendations (81 percent), including those from within social-media circles (61 percent), play a major role in purchase decisions. This change poses many challenges for retailers, as they have less control over the information used by customers in various stages of their shopping journey. Many retailers have built interactive features within their websites to encourage customer discussion and feedback, but these efforts may only enjoy limited success; this same research suggests that consumers trust third-party reviews more than the retailer from which they are considering making a purchase (see figure 2).5 Thus, while consumers read user-generated reviews on company websites, they tend to cross-check these with reviews provided by independent sources.