Salesforce explores the rise of the connected shopper – and what retailers need to do

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Retail continues to be an area where the consumer is king. Engagement channels are changing, tech-enabled customer experience has never been more vital, and the battle between traditional retail and online marketplaces is well and truly joined.

Salesforce’s latest Connected Shoppers Report aimed to explore the relationship between bricks-and-mortar and digital retailers – and found that while the former still has its place, the latter’s continued dominance is undeniable.

Of course, a trip down any high street in many countries would give consumers the ability to glean this information first hand. Yet the reasons why this is the case range across the entire customer journey, as well as touching on key demographics.

According to the research, 86% of shoppers purchase from retailers, brands and online marketplaces. Salesforce puts this understandable approach due to converging interests for consumers; the retailer can offer strong customer service, loyalty and rewards, the brand has product customisation and authenticity, while the online marketplace offers variety in terms of price and convenience.

When it comes to the various experiences for product differentiation, younger consumers are more likely to subscribe. The one constant across generations, however, is loyalty programs, cited by more than 70% across all sectors. For limited edition, or customised products, under a third (30%) of boomers polled said it would increase their likelihood to buy, compared with 66% and 72% for millennials and Gen Zers respectively.

More than half (57%) of shoppers said they tend to shop with a specific brand in mind, according to the research. This can be reciprocal: the top trait of consumers’ favourite brands was that they catered to unique needs – followed by exclusive offers and promotions.

The report explores how shopper journeys are moving to the edge, with on average eight different channels being used to communicate with companies. This is placed in three buckets; discovery and evaluation, buying, and service. However, when it comes to the most emerging touchpoints, such as visual search, video chat and livestreams, Generation X and millennials are ahead of Gen Z when it comes to adoption.

“This year’s Connected Shopper Report highlights the importance of convenience and the growing maturity of propositions to give retailers a competitive edge,” said Jamie Merrick, Salesforce director of strategic solutions. “Our research shows that on average, customers use eight channels to communicate with brands, so the nirvana for retailers is having a 360-degree view which gives them visibility of every touch point.

“Regardless of the channels they are using, the success of retailers still relies on having the right strategy in place when it comes to their product, pricing, and service offering,” added Merrick. “Achieving the right balance in terms of their core proposition and omnichannel approach means retailers will continue to attract and retain customers.”

You can read the full report here (pdf).

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