Blending shopper insights and marketing with category management and sales, this year’s OmniShopper conference was a hot-bed of thought leadership featuring some of the world’s largest brands. We sent a crew of senior leaders to take in the action first hand, and three key takeaways loomed large.
1. The growth of e-commerce will not come from more households beginning to purchase products online.
Surprised? So were we. But it’s true – more than 9 in 10 households are now buying at least one product category online. This means the majority of future growth will come from these households purchasing more categories and more volume online, rather than through conversion of currently “offline” households. This is important because e-commerce shoppers are more loyal to brands than brick-and-mortar shoppers, thanks to subscription services, purchase history documentation, and targeted marketing. Given this, it is imperative brands optimize their digital shelf before it’s too late.
2. The age of technology is now.
Artificial intelligence is being used to help predict customer needs and wants and drive personalization in a digital economy – a much needed component in today’s fragmented reality.
Virtual reality (VR), no longer relegated to video games, is also helping retailers understand the impact of in-store activations, and has even popped up recently in concept stores for major brands. The Holoroom How To at Lowe’s, for example, offers customers the opportunity to learn DIY techniques without having to leave the store. There are many potential applications of VR, as evident in our whitepaper, 12 Ways Virtual Reality will Change the World for the Better.
While it seems that most retailers and CPG brands are still experimenting with the right mix of technology, it’s clear that most organizations are embracing it to help with better decision-making.
3. Customer-centricity doesn’t happen overnight.
Customers are at the heart of the change in retail and consumer products. Socially-linked and more informed than ever, the power of the customer is immense, forcing brands to take stock in how ‘customer-centric’ they are. Customer-centricity must flow through every part of an organization – radiating from the C-Suite through to the front lines. While a move toward customer-centricity is a work-in-progress, many large brands admit to struggling, as it isn’t a change that can happen overnight. A focused strategy to understand the customer takes a strong partnership with market research, combined with robust internal data/analytics. The refreshing news is that many organizations are on the right path. Brands that prioritize the customer are now seeing increasing sales, stronger customer retention, greater advocacy and success in new strategies.
What is to come?
As we look to the balance of 2017, we expect a great deal of innovation thinking to permeate strategic decision making. Technology will continue to play a dominant role in how we advance as a shopper culture, but the foundation of truly understanding the omnishopper will never cease. We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference.