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Truth Matters: How to Appeal to Savvy Gen Z Shoppers

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, an independent study estimated that Gen Z’s direct and indirect spending power reached up to $143 billion. This generation is now at a level making brands and retailers alike stand up and take note. It is also a generation motivated by different factors, unforgiving of poor service, and experience hungry. Brands need to evolve to remain relevant for this new powerful audience of consumers, yet crucially not alienate existing audiences. So how could you go about surfing the fine line? 

1. Gen Z are the most information-hungry consumers

Recent research conducted on 2000 consumers, looked at what influences types of shoppers in making a ‘considered purchase’. These are transactions that are made with significant financial or emotional thought. It exposed the fact that brands across some of the top retail categories are potentially missing out on close to £15bn in in-store revenue in the past year, due to poor in-person advice.

Encouragingly for the future of physical retail, the research revealed Gen Z are most likely to seek out great advice in store (45%) versus an average of 38% and are more likely to find staff knowledgeable across categories. They are also the most likely out of all ages to appreciate product demos (39%) against a 29% average across all ages. In fact, 1 in 2 Gen Z’ers (52%) and 38% of Millennials will spend more for a good experience in-store across all categories – crucial for the development of experiential retail. So it’s clear that retailers and brands need to be innovating sufficiently to appeal and to tap into this growing market and appeal to the core differentiators of Gen Z.

They expect accurate information and immediacy and it’s this audience that is creating the benchmark which all brands and retailers need to meet to engage a digital-savvy audience. The ‘try hard’ element isn’t cool either, as this is easily spotted, so keep it breezy, intuitive, and functional with Gen Z.

2. Profit over provenance will switch younger generations off your brand

The fact that this generation is more values-driven is critical to real engagement. Making it clear why your product is worth that much, who made it, and how it was made, and under what conditions are critical consideration factors. Bear in mind the generation of Greta Thunberg will do their research, be vocal and active if you get it wrong. According to research from IPSOS, 40% of Gen Z said they will actually boycott brands, compared with 16% of Millennials. 

The world has changed and ‘profit over provenance’ is a surefire way to switch younger generations off of your brand. A brand’s politics are also an important influencer of your brand appeal with this generation. The recent creation of Facebook’s parent company, Meta, was clearly driven more by finances than branding, only to protect its share price. This was on the back of poor publicity hitting its cornerstone brand, further turning off younger generations. Research from Statista from 2020 revealed the waning interest in Facebook among Gen Z. It came behind Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, and Snapchat when asked which platform could you least do without. After all, while Gen Zers may have a Facebook profile, they don’t think that Facebook speaks to them or their followers.

3. Heritage won’t be enough – price and functionality will

This generation in question are considered consumers and aren’t easily fooled. Gen Z have a shrewd approach to not only their own finances but also evaluating the true value of what they are buying. This critical consideration of a brand’s values means that brands must work harder if they are to succeed.

Just like those bygone brands that died with their aging fan base, the appeal of your brand can not be purely based on your heritage. This means nothing to certain age groups, especially in the CE category where digital natives are unlikely to have nostalgic sentiments to old tech. That TV brand they remember their grandparents having isn’t going to appeal. They may think it’s an outdated brand and, moreover, it’s highly likely they don’t even watch linear TV. Any premium messaging you apply may not appeal either as the functionality is more important than the sleekness of look. Indeed, our recent research showed that a good price promotion was the most important consideration for Generation Z in the considered purchase space. 

Gen Z want brands to give them what they want at a price they can afford and that has been made responsibly. Brands need to work hard to communicate and demonstrate this so that it resonates with the psyche of a younger generation.

4. A synchronized experience is key

As the research has conclusively shown, 85% of shoppers are now doing online research before making a considered purchase in-store. In fact, 84% of Gen Z shoppers said a well synchronized online and offline experience would make them more likely to make a considered purchase, increasing the need for a brand to lay out the customer journey clearly to appeal to these shoppers. Think customer-, not platform-first, and ensure there is a seamless journey from discovery, research to purchase. How consistent is the brand experience and how can you better enhance the experience and make the sale? The digital native traits of this generation mean that you just can’t cut it with old websites and apps.

The approach should be that every person who visits your website and then walks through the door of a shop is given a joined-up experience and is viewed as a potential customer and influencer. Someone who will talk about you positively through their experience and tell others in person, online, or on social media and is not viewed as just another body to ‘deal’ with.

Belying the stereotypes, it is clear the generation who most welcome expert brand advice is Gen  Z. Indeed, as our research indicates the right advice can lead to younger customers willingly spending more. However, if you favour profit over provenance they will be turned off, and be more than willing to boycott your brand. Heritage is also less of a factor for this generation and loyalty will need to be delivered through the value and functionality you can offer, not some mythical appeal. A joined-up and seamless experience online and offline is also now an absolute must for brands and retailers to survive in a changing market. It’s now about making the investment to do so and implement a new experience-centric playbook. This is the way to appeal to Gen Z and indeed all generations. After all, these younger pioneers are creating the benchmark which all brands and retailers need to meet to engage a modern digital-savvy audience.

To read the full article please visit Branding Magazine

Photo by Ali Pazani

Press Coverage – PCR – Shoppers reveal top factors motivating a ‘considered purchase

As retailers gear up for the peak of Christmas shopping, shoppers have revealed the top factors that would make them contemplate a considered purchase at retail. According to the survey of 2,000 respondents carried out by OnePoll on behalf of field marketing and retail experience agency, Gekko, the top factor driving a considered purchase is the ‘ability to see and touch a product’, according to 58% of respondents.

Despite being the most favoured strategy during the seasonal discounting period, price promotion was second, rated important by 56% of respondents. This was followed by ‘great advice’ rated important by 37% of respondents and then an effective product demonstration (28%). Meanwhile Covid concerns were lower down the list with 1 in 4 (25%) saying social distancing was now an important factor.

Gekko surveyed experiences across several key retail categories including: Consumer electronics, homeware, baby & child, gaming, home improvement, clothing & apparel. The purpose was to find out what influences shoppers in making a ‘considered purchase’ – purchases that are made with significant financial or emotional thought.

The survey shows there were key differences in age. Price promotion is actually the top factor for every age group until the +54 year olds when it starts diminishing in importance. Interestingly social distancing is a larger factor for 18-24 year olds with 37% rating this as important. This could be to do with vaccine hesitancy or less still being fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile the survey also reveals a majority of shoppers think most retailers haven’t adapted well to the pandemic in terms of the customer experience. The categories seen to have most adapted best to the pandemic are consumer electronics, 54%, followed by home improvement, 51%. These were the only categories a majority of consumers thought had adapted well or excellently. Worst performers were baby and child with just 29% of shoppers thinking they’d adapted well. Gaming was rated by just 31% of shoppers as having adapted well. In response Gekko is urging retailers to embrace an ‘experience-centric playbook’ to make up for lost time during the pandemic, engaging all the senses to bring back the theatre of retail.

Daniel Todaro, MD says: “When it comes to physical retail and considered purchases, it is vital to engage all the senses and create a joined up marketing experience that is going to lead the customer to the checkout till. Our research shows just how vital the ability to see, touch and engage with a product in a positive environment is a critical factor in considered purchase decisions. This desire may well have come about or been heightened by the long lockdowns we have all experienced, increasing our desire to shop in person. The decline in online sales share back to 27% is indicative of this. Price promotion is of course important but needs to be within the context of a wider customer engagement strategy. As the research shows, the role and approach of a knowledgeable sales advisor is also crucial.”

He continues: “To make the most of the opportunity, try to ensure the environment and setting complements the overall experience with, for example, good lighting, ambience and clearly visible price promotions. Stand back, encourage play, and keep the conversation flowing using open questions. Learn through specific questions and examples about the customers’ needs and lifestyle changes. This is the way physical retailers can ensure they can continue to win customers and offer a superb customer experience.”

Article originally published by PCR

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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Shoppers Reveal Top Factors Motivating A ‘Considered Purchase’: Engage The Senses, Think Price And Expert Advice

As retailers gear up for the peak of Christmas shopping, shoppers have revealed the top factors that would make them contemplate a considered purchase at retail. According to the survey of 2,000 respondents carried out by OnePoll on behalf of field marketing and retail experience agency, Gekko, the top factor driving a considered purchase is the ‘ability to see and touch a product’, according to 58% of respondents.

Despite being the most favoured strategy during the seasonal discounting period, price promotion was second, rated important by 56% of respondents. This was followed by ‘great advice’ rated important by 37% of respondents and then an effective product demonstration (28%). Meanwhile Covid concerns were lower down the list with 1 in 4 (25%) saying social distancing was now an important factor.

Gekko surveyed experiences across several key retail categories including: Consumer electronics, homeware, baby & child, gaming, home improvement, clothing & apparel. The purpose was to find out what influences shoppers in making a ‘considered purchase’ – purchases that are made with significant financial or emotional thought.

The survey shows there were key differences in age. Price promotion is actually the top factor for every age group until the +54 year olds when it starts diminishing in importance. Interestingly social distancing is a larger factor for 18-24 year olds with 37% rating this as important. This could be to do with vaccine hesitancy or less still being fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile the survey also reveals a majority of shoppers think most retailers haven’t adapted well to the pandemic in terms of the customer experience. The categories seen to have most adapted best to the pandemic are consumer electronics, 54%, followed by home improvement, 51%. These were the only categories a majority of consumers thought had adapted well or excellently. Worst performers were baby and child with just 29% of shoppers thinking they’d adapted well. Gaming was rated by just 31% of shoppers as having adapted well. In response Gekko is urging retailers to embrace an ‘experience-centric playbook’ to make up for lost time during the pandemic, engaging all the senses to bring back the theatre of retail.

Daniel Todaro, MD says: “When it comes to physical retail and considered purchases, it is vital to engage all the senses and create a joined up marketing experience that is going to lead the customer to the checkout till. Our research shows just how vital the ability to see, touch and engage with a product in a positive environment is a critical factor in considered purchase decisions. This desire may well have come about or been heightened by the long lockdowns we have all experienced, increasing our desire to shop in person. The decline in online sales share back to 27% is indicative of this. Price promotion is of course important but needs to be within the context of a wider customer engagement strategy. As the research shows, the role and approach of a knowledgeable sales advisor is also crucial.”

He continues: “To make the most of the opportunity, try to ensure the environment and setting complements the overall experience with, for example, good lighting, ambience and clearly visible price promotions. Stand back, encourage play, and keep the conversation flowing using open questions. Learn through specific questions and examples about the customers’ needs and lifestyle changes. This is the way physical retailers can ensure they can continue to win customers and offer a superb customer experience.”

What would be the most important factors to you in making a ‘considered purchase’ in store?

  • Ability to see and touch a product: 58%
  • Price promotion: 56%
  • Great advice: 37%
  • Effective product demonstration: 28%
  • Social distancing followed: 25%
  • A stylish store: 15%

Article originally published by Business Mondays

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

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Shoppers Reveal Top Factors Motivating A ‘Considered Purchase’ – Can You Guess Them?

As retailers gear up for the peak of Christmas shopping, shoppers have revealed the top factors that would make them contemplate a considered purchase at retail. 

According to the survey of 2,000 respondents carried out by OnePoll on behalf of field marketing and retail experience agency, Gekko, the top factor driving a considered purchase is the ‘ability to see and touch a product’, according to 58% of respondents.

Top factors for shoppers

Despite being the most favoured strategy during the seasonal discounting period, price promotion was second, rated important by 56% of respondents. 

This was followed by ‘great advice’ rated important by 37% of respondents and then an effective product demonstration (28%). Meanwhile Covid concerns were lower down the list with one in four (25%) saying social distancing was now an important factor.

Gekko surveyed experiences across several key retail categories including: Consumer electronics, homeware, baby & child, gaming, home improvement, clothing & apparel. 

The purpose was to find out what influences shoppers in making a ‘considered purchase’ – purchases that are made with significant financial or emotional thought.

The survey shows there were key differences in age. Price promotion is actually the top factor for every age group until the +54 year olds when it starts diminishing in importance.

gekko Formula for retail success

Interestingly social distancing is a larger factor for 18-24 year olds with 37% rating this as important. This could be to do with vaccine hesitancy or less still being fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile the survey also reveals a majority of shoppers think most retailers haven’t adapted well to the pandemic in terms of the customer experience. 

The categories seen to have most adapted best to the pandemic are consumer electronics, 54%, followed by home improvement, 51%. 

These were the only categories a majority of consumers thought had adapted well or excellently. Worst performers were baby and child with just 29% of shoppers thinking they’d adapted well. 

Gaming was rated by just 31% of shoppers as having adapted well. 

In response Gekko is urging retailers to embrace an ‘experience-centric playbook’ to make up for lost time during the pandemic, engaging all the senses to bring back the theatre of retail.

Daniel Todaro, Gekko MD, said: “When it comes to physical retail and considered purchases, it is vital to engage all the senses and create a joined up marketing experience that is going to lead the customer to the checkout till. 

“Our research shows just how vital the ability to see, touch and engage with a product in a positive environment is a critical factor in considered purchase decisions. 

“This desire may well have come about or been heightened by the long lockdowns we have all experienced, increasing our desire to shop in person. The decline in online sales share back to 27% is indicative of this. 

“Price promotion is of course important but needs to be within the context of a wider customer engagement strategy. As the research shows, the role and approach of a knowledgeable sales advisor is also crucial.”

“To make the most of the opportunity, try to ensure the environment and setting complements the overall experience with, for example, good lighting, ambience and clearly visible price promotions. 

“Stand back, encourage play, and keep the conversation flowing using open questions. Learn through specific questions and examples about the customers’ needs and lifestyle changes. 

“This is the way physical retailers can ensure they can continue to win customers and offer a superb customer experience.”

What would be the most important factors to you in making a ‘considered purchase’ in store?

  • Ability to see and touch a product: 58%
  • Price promotion: 56%
  • Great advice: 37%
  • Effective product demonstration: 28%
  • Social distancing followed: 25%
  • A stylish store: 15%

Article originally published by MediaShotz

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

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How Retailers Can Capitalise On Black Friday and Beyond

With Black Friday upon us, it is vital retailers now maximise the huge sales opportunities that exist. With money to spend, from savings accumulated over lockdown and no holidays, customers are getting ready to go for a bumper spending period up to Christmas.

After all, UK consumers are estimated to have saved around £200bn over the various lockdowns, while 54% of those savers are ready to spend it on Black Friday and Christmas according to a recent survey by Future plc. Furthermore, over 70% of customers suggest that they would have the same amount or more money to spend on Black Friday in 2021 as in 2020 (PPA). Combine this with store doors wide open, we look set for increased customer footfall and sales figures.

However it is important to strike a note of caution, as there are some warnings of issues that could dampen the mood this year. Further Pandemic related problems could arise of course, a fresh wave has broken out across Europe, along with truck driver shortages and global supply chain disruptions that may delay goods arriving to the UK over the next few weeks.

It is the second year in a row where such implications have been highlighted. It is becoming clear that consumers are hearing that call, a recent Ebay survey showed that 41% of shoppers will have aimed to have got their Christmas shopping done before December even begins, as opposed to just 25% last year. Therefore acting now to make the most of the opportunity on Black Friday is critical.

The traditional view of Black Friday is perhaps long queues outside shops and big price drops for retailers. While that has certainly changed during the pandemic, we must not dismiss the benefit of Black Friday’s appeal and hype to lure customers in store/online. Black Friday just needs to be treated a little differently.

Black Friday shouldn’t be simply about heavy discounting – consumers want to be satisfied with the shopping experience (online and instore) and the products they are buying. Last year we were denied physical sale shopping, and with Christmas shopping earlier than ever, retailers should be prepared to come armed with the right product information.

Training is vital for Christmas staff, as is continual reviews of ecommerce sites – to ensure a quality experience not just one based on price point. Price drops on their own will not sustain footfall – but quality, personalised experiences in store and online will.

Retailers should take note of the growth of Singles Day, the way the shopping experience has become a form of entertainment, where social media, ecommerce sites all build up excitement along with key social media influences via live streaming. In the UK, it can be tempting to slash prices on Black Friday or even in the lead up to it and let the price do the talking. But without clever marketing online or in store, relevant and engaging social media and ultimately a smooth online/in store experience – where staff know their products and stock the experience will not be as thrilling.

Customers like a bargain, it may get them over the door, but at a time when every customer matters, it’s important to build brand loyalty and get a repeat visit in the run up to Christmas. Retailers must be aware that while discounts are the foundation of Black Friday, it’s the excitement, marketing, brand experience and ultimately the store or online journey that will sway a customer from perusing to purchase. Once the customer is through the door, or on a retailer website – conversion becomes experience based.

As retailers ramp up their marketing efforts as we approach the peak of spending for the year, consumers are certainly going to have plenty of choice as to where to spend their budgets. Retailers will have to do all they can to make sure they stand out from the crowd. Engaging marketing, whether it be store representatives, training or merchandising activities, can ensure that the consumer knows who you are and why they should be choosing your products. Once that is achieved then loyalty and success will follow.

By Hannah Snoeck, Client Services Director, Gekko

Article originally published by BDaily

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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IFA Bis Nachher!

IFA Berlin has been a feature in my calendar for many years, and since 2015 I have been reviewing the event for ERT.
Unfortunately the 2021 incarnation didn’t happen as many brands were pulling out and therefore made the event unviable, but I’m confident that the show will be back with a bang next year!
To quote the organisation itself “IFA in Berlin presents the latest products and innovations in the heart of Europe’s most important regional market. Only IFA offers such a comprehensive overview of the international market and attracts the attention of visitors from more than 130 countries each year”. Looking back to 2019, LG showcased its Roll, the OLED TV that rolled neatly into its own cabinet to disappear from view. Here in 2021, it is now available to buy at a princely price of just over £100,000, which is of course out of the reach of most people. However, an important consideration is, would it have ever been conceived if it wasn’t intended to be a showstopper at IFA? Whatever the reasons LG chose to create this stunning piece of kit, the brand has paved the way for others to now copy the concept and intrinsically bring the average price down to make it the de facto TV form factor for many.
So proof in point that IFA is the innovation hot spot that drives brands to go deeper and further in understanding what consumers may need before they even realise it, creating categories and technology which will in time become commonplace to all.

Smart Everywhere


In 2015 the buzz was the smart home and there were many who huddled around brand displays at IFA gasping at what was possible with connected devices. Each year the innovation developed and today it’s almost nonsensical to consider that any home doesn’t have or want smart devices – from TVs and voice-activated speakers, to security and entertainment solutions – in their possession.
Taking a whistle-stop-tour of the years and it’s a similar story of innovation, but a progressive journey for the Berlin showcase to evolve into something fresh, never boring or the same. Those exhibitors never failed to deliver a great experience and their immense pride in showcasing their new technology was clearly evident.
Surprise and delight did many brands from all categories, and in 2016 it was LG which outdid everybody with its walk-through 4K display tunnel. This took the visitor on a truly immersive journey of LG technology with a beautifully executed experience that became the undisputed talking point of the event that year.


Voice Of The Future


Moving on to IFA 2017, I reported that the ‘vibe’ was one of progress, a move forward, improving what is already available, innovating through integration to bring the smart home closer to normality and Artificial Intelligence (AI) truly recognised by consumers as no longer being the domain of fantasy but reality, with compatibility across more products. This became rapidly more realistic over the following two years.
In 2018, Google’s Assistant was all over Berlin as more and more brands were building voice activation into their products. Assistant-enabled products were popping up across a host of categories. From laundry with Hoover Candy, cooking with Electrolux, to smart watches from TicWatch, thermostats from Netatmo, and doorbells from Ring, the tech also extended to TVs from Toshiba, Hisense, LG and Panasonic. The dominance of voice assistants was most definitely the story that year.
Building on this in 2019 was the prevalence of voice control and AI-controlled products. Almost every brand and category has either one or both of the two leading voice assistants becoming inbuilt and connected, increasing the smart home ecosystem across almost every device, MDA and wearable.
What voice has done to bring AI and smart technology into consumers’ lives is quite possibly one of the most disruptive technologies to have been created, changing how we interact with our technology, its interface and what it can do for us from a social and macro perspective. This was evident in the exhibition at IFA 2020 – which was an extremely smaller, intimate and socially-distanced affair. The event organisers had done a superb job at keeping the CE industries key event open, albeit just to trade visitors and not the general public. The effects of the pandemic were recognised and obvious as a driver of investment in R&D. The key shout-outs last year set a trend for brands seeking to be the first choice for consumers to integrate with their smart home.


See You In 2022!


If you consider that in the five years that I’ve been writing about IFA, excluding 2021, the average attendance per year is 245,000 with an estimated 150,000 coming from trade to visit the almost 1,800 exhibitors. It’s an awesome show on a scale that makes it on par, if not better, than its transatlantic rival.
The need for IFA to return in 2022 in its original format is essential for the industry, however I fear the savings made over two years may encourage many brands to scale back attendance and investment. This approach will inevitably mean a new format and potentially a hybrid event on a smaller scale. The impact of this approach may not only hold back creativity and innovation, but also the ability for start-ups and consumers to be inspired to carry the wave of technological innovation.
Whatever becomes the format for 2022, creating a space like IFA to bring innovation together and measure the reaction of your peers and consumers is key in the evolution of categories – existing and new. What the pandemic achieved for brands was an opportunity to reset, rethink and enhance their proposition to meet the needs of people’s changing lifestyles, which as a result have become ‘normal’. The use of home technology has been impacted immensely, with adapted living spaces supporting various changes in lifestyle. And IFA is crucial to this development.
I hope to see you and maybe several hundred thousand more in Berlin, 2-6 September 2022 at the most inspiring global tech event imaginable!

Article published by ERT

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Mind The Knowledge Gap – New Consumer Research from Gekko

A new consumer survey reveals that retailers miss out on £15bn per year due to poor advice in-store.

1 in 10 shoppers have cancelled a planned considered purchase due to poor instore advice – Gen Z most likely to seek out experts – Gekko urging retailers and brands to implement new ‘experience-centric playbook’


Brands across some of the top retail categories potentially missed out on close to £15bn in instore revenue in the past year, due to poor in-person advice. The finding comes from new research commissioned by field marketing and retail experience agency, Gekko. The study of 2,000 consumers, conducted by OnePoll, looked at what influences shoppers in making a ‘considered purchase’ – purchases that are made with significant financial or emotional thought.

The research revealed 1 in 10 shoppers said they had walked out of a shop due to poor advice relating to a considered purchase they were definitely going to make. This equates to some £15bn in revenue overall over the past year.*

Physical retailing brings benefits

The experiences vary across categories and age groups. Gekko surveyed experiences across several key retail categories including: Consumer electronics, homeware, baby & child, gaming, home improvement, clothing & apparel. Overall 59.8% said they had received ‘excellent or good advice in store’, highlighting the benefit of human interaction and face-to-face sales.

However, £15bn could be a drop in the ocean of additional revenues that could be accrued with better advice. 37% of shoppers in the consumer electronics category revealed they would be prepared to spend more if they received excellent and knowledgeable in-store advice, indicating a golden opportunity for retailers. This compared with 30% of shoppers in the home improvement category and 27% in homeware/ home furnishings and 21% in clothing and apparel.

According to the survey, 50% of Brits made a ‘considered purchase’ in DIY during the pandemic, more than in any other category. However, only 1 in 5 (21%) rated the advice they had as ‘excellent’ in making the purchase. This was compared to 32% for baby and child, 31% for gaming, and 24% for consumer electronics. Meanwhile, 1 in 4 DIY shoppers (25%) were so disappointed by the advice they were put off making an expensive purchase altogether, with 11% pulling the plug on the purchase and walking out of the store.

Encouragingly for the future of physical retail, Gen Z are most likely to seek out great advice in-store (45%) versus an average of 38% and are more likely to find staff knowledgeable across categories. They are also the most likely out of all ages to appreciate product demos (39%) against a 29% average across all ages. 1 in 2 Gen Z’ers (52%) and 38% of Millennials will spend more for a good experience in-store across all categories – crucial for the development of experiential retail.

Joined up retailing appeals

Meanwhile, a conclusive 85% of shoppers are now doing online research before making a considered purchase in-store. 84% of Gen Z, 45-54, and 55-64 categories were even higher at 89% and 90% respectively. Interestingly, 69% said a well synchronized online and offline experience would make them more likely to make a considered purchase.

The timeless appeal of a positive engagement with an in-store expert.

According to Daniel Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko: “Our research highlights the timeless appeal of a positive engagement with an in-store expert. While we have spent so much of the past year and a half shopping online – it is clear online alone is no replacement for the experience and interaction of trained advisors. They are consistently the best way to influence and convert a sale of a considered purchase item.

While there is overall satisfaction, our survey clearly shows more can be done and retailers have potentially missed out of billions. Now, this is not to say that all retailers are doing it wrong. Those with a real customer service first mentality are doing it amazingly well. Every person that walks through the door should be viewed as a potential customer, an influencer, someone who will talk about you positively through their experience and tell others in person, online, or on social media and is not viewed as just another body to ‘deal’ with.”

Bright future with Gen Z

He continued: “Belying the stereotypes, it is also clear the generations who most welcome expert advice are the younger ones – indeed as our research indicates the right advice can lead to younger customers willingly spending more. This is good news for the future of bricks and mortar retail, but it doesn’t mean retailers don’t need to adapt. Our survey also shows that a joined-up and seamless experience online and offline is also now expected with older generations also more likely to research. Brands already know the need to embrace experts and adapt to survive in a changing market, it’s now about making the investment to do so and implement the new experience-centric playbook.”

To find out more about our survey research please visit our website.

About the research
The nationally representative survey of 2,000 consumers was carried out by One Poll in a research project in October. The categories being researched were: Consumer electronics/appliances/technology, Homeware/ home furnishings, Baby & child, Gaming, Home improvement (DIY & Garden), Clothing & apparel/accessories.  

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Know How Now

Now more than ever, enhancing the customer experience is critical to create theatre and ultimately close sales. In order to take the consumer through the varied steps of the journey from demo to sale, you need to equip your staff to be the best they can be – and it all starts with training. A key element of the formula for success in store is the engagement of shoppers with retail sales advisors. Are they proactive, helpful, skilful, knowledgeable, and capable of providing a personalised experience? This is something the online experience can’t replicate and physical retailers need to capitalise upon. Much is down to individuals,
their training and management the retailer provides, but when it comes to talking about a brand and its products it is vital they are informed and motivated… and most importantly advocates.

The Pandemic’s Impact

The training of advocates is often down to brand-led initiatives, and while in the past these experiences were provided in person, the pandemic has forced new innovative methods like virtual training, with face-to-face communication not being possible. For example, this could include, developing or incorporating digital learning and engagement solutions from third parties or even those brands you sell. Working with your brands enables you to talk directly with their training teams to develop your Retail Sales Advisors, allowing them to choose when and how they learn, with tactics ranging from gamification to potential
incentives at no cost to you driving uptake. These digital solutions mean that brands are able to boost their reach, through training many more staff members and therefore having a wider impact. While visiting face-to-face enables greater engagement and brand advocacy – a hybrid model is still a fantastic way of doing business with retailers to help develop categories and brandshare. In some respects, a bit like peoples* changed working arrangement, it’s taken a major event to force through a sensible and more efficient way of doing business.

Introducing ‘Tech-sperts’

While digital methods are helping to train more in-store experts at scale, the digital world can also be utilised to provide direct expert assistance to those making a considered purchase. Curry’s is one brand trying a new approach during the pandemic with the Shoplive service to assist sales. A pop-up appears asking if you need buying advice, but rather than the experience being a frustrating one with a generic chatbot, shoppers can then start a one- way video call with one of Curry’s experts. ShopLive now has over 800 ‘tech-sperts’, aiding customers through their essential tech purchases. Each new expert goes through two days of specialist training to ensure they can help customers with every tech query. While a face-to face conversation with a live product demo will always be the best way of answering any customers’ needs, this certainly can aid the sales process for those who would still rather not venture out, or can’t for
any reason.

A Blended Approach

Despite the atypical nature of the past year, we have seen retail set up in response to the adversity. Namely a dynamic approach with some needed changes and digital transformation taking place that in the long run will only be a good thing for the industry. A lot of the confident retailers have really begun to find their voice and discover a new way to navigate these new uncertain, but exciting waters. Be creative. Be brave and try new ways to educate your teams to better meet the customer life cycle. The future of training and the manner in which we deliver this as a blended approach may be changing, however the need to continue evolving the knowledge base in both technical and soft skills is essential to meet the ever-changing needs of the CE industry and the customers you serve – who are ultimately the pulse of your business.

By Daniel Todaro, Managing Director, Gekko Group

Article published by ERT

Photo by Michal Matlon on Unsplash

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Coming out of the pandemic – Five lessons from an SME in surviving a crisis

When the pandemic first hit, my thoughts were drawn to the here and now. This involved reforecasting and our cash flow, calculating how long the business could survive and employ staff without any income. However once the dust settled it made me realise there was never a better time to embrace new thinking and how necessity is the mother of all invention. The pandemic has forced new approaches and new ways of thinking that can improve how SMEs can do business. From how we engage with staff to our approach to business and people we work with, to the new products we are developing. I think there have been five ways we have mitigated the worst impact of the pandemic that are good lessons for other SMEs in similar situations.

Supporting staff

My key focus was employee support and motivation so whilst we agreed plans with brands, the workforce needed to be supported to deliver these. Lockdown put the nation under very odd circumstances, unique to everyone and all very personal. We therefore began the process of honest communications, support from a work and personal perspective to help develop coping mechanisms and create clear expectations of working patterns and priorities. We increased training, which ranged from soft skills learning and also included employee support curated with external practitioners in each field to assist the workforce as best we could. These initiatives looked to develop life skills delivered virtually for all staff, these included Coping with Covid sessions, Diversity, equity and inclusion discussions, Mental & Physical Health courses which evolved based on employee feedback, all supported by our weekly Fit for Gekko emails that gave useful information, tips and light hearted advice. As the bedrock of the business during uncertain times we needed to make sure they were looked after and could bounce back strongly when the good times returned. 

Develop new innovative services

Even with some restrictions eased at different points, it became impractical and less safe to send people in store to train staff so we moved at pace to pivot to develop new digital services for brands. This included a digital learning management system for retail sales teams. This is something we had been strategising for a while but the pandemic forced us to rapidly speed up the development. The upshot is we have been able to train many more staff than we would have and created a valued new service which will complement our instore activity. For one brand we have trained over 100,000 retail sales advisors virtually since March 2020 through a mix of live streams and one 2 one virtual sessions. It enabled us to increase our reach by 37%. In meeting the needs of the evolved channel, we have helped diversify our business offering. We also created multiple Engagement Portals for staff in areas ranging from virtual education, online expenses, employee management tools. We will continue to focus on increased investment in data and insight and training and employee engagement. 

Invest in insight and truly knowing your customer

With less live activity with clients, we invested in our Data and Insight team to develop our research market trends, economy and shopper habits. This was critical to support the brands we work with and equip our staff to understand the macro situation better and react. In gaining a better understanding of the state of the nation we created a shared understanding of the challenges ahead and how to overcome them. It has set us up in a good place to understand the challenges of the future and to remain more relevant for our partners and clients.

Cementing relationships in difficult time

Given the difficulties we have all faced, this period has been a perfect opportunity to really cement relationships with partners. We all faced the same challenges and it was a time to show loyalty. In some ways the pandemic provided the glue to bring us all closer. Sadly there have been many examples of businesses who have failed in this regard during this time. But my sense is that this will be remembered by customers and suppliers. Short term financial decisions could have long term implications for brands seen as not helping people during this time. Fortunately the majority of our client base were very supportive of our partnership. However with others I had to hold their feet to the fire a bit. It’s interesting to see how some global brands reacted to suppliers, not all were consistent with their ‘corporate values’ and as an SME you have to be brave and stand your corner. With a sustainable cash flow and supported staff we were able to begin the process of pivoting to meet the immediate needs and changes required to support our brands so that they could continue to operate in the channel and compete.

Never underestimate your staff

I remain optimistic for the future and if we can retain and grow our talent organically, complementing this with more flexible working patterns, I believe we can recover in the next two years to bounce back and exceed the 2019 results. I do think this whole period has speeded up innovative thinking, digital transformation and under the heat of the pressure encouraged agile and dynamic thinking such as the development of new products and services ensuring we serve the needs of clients. On a human level it has of course created an enormous amount of stress, pressure and tragedy for so many and we need to be mindful of staff’s mental health as we return to the office. But ultimately it has made me appreciate that you should never underestimate your staff. 

The hidden talents, resilience and ability to adapt were highlighted amongst the team with the vast majority adapting and delivering irrespective of the situation. It’s easy to see your staff as just ‘employees’ but they are more than that, they are the pulse which makes your business beat and adapt better than perhaps you may have wrongly imagined.

By Daniel Todaro, Managing Director, Gekko Group

Article published by SME Business News

Photo by Tim Douglas from Pexels

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How are department stores taking aim at Gen Z shoppers?

In recent years, department stores have increased investment into online offerings, digital marketing campaigns and product collaborations in a bid to target younger shoppers.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, an independent study estimated that Gen Z’s direct and indirect spending power reached up to $143 billion, a level of financial influence that made brands and retailers alike stand up and take note.

Despite the pandemic hampering the sector worldwide, Gen Z shoppers’ digitally native lifestyle meant their spending wasn’t limited when stores were closed during government lockdowns.

Now that all legal Covid restrictions have ceased across the UK, these younger shoppers are expecting the same digital and interactive elements they have access to online within physical retail spaces when venturing out.

Last month, London’s Selfridges opened its new gaming destination PlayHouse with hopes to cash in on the lucrative gaming market and entice younger shoppers.

The 200sq m store brings together digital and physical experiences with immersive VR experiences and car racing simulators.

Last year Harrods launched and expanded H Beauty, which offers a range of premium and luxury brands under one roof as well as onsite treatments, consultations and demonstrations.

While in July, the luxury department store launched a clothing rental service in partnership with My Wardrobe HQ in a bid to tap into shoppers seeking sustainable fashion options.

This came a month after a new report from Depop revealed that Gen Z’s shopping behaviours are “strongly influenced” by brands commitments to social and environmental sustainability.

When it comes to sustainability, 90 per cent of Gen Z consumers surveyed said they have made changes to be more sustainable in their daily lives and more sustainable fashion practices play a central role.

Melissa Minkow, Retail Industry Lead at the digital consultancy firm CI&T said these recent moves have been smart.

“The department store concept isn’t completely irrelevant in terms of how younger generations shop, but it does need to be updated in order to fully resonate,” she told Retail Gazette.

“Gen Z is a group of social shoppers- they enjoy making shopping a shared experience for themselves and their peers, and department stores structurally haven’t been super conducive to indulging that desire. These efforts will cater to Gen Z’s appreciation of mall culture and destination shopping.”

Oliver Guy, Senior Director, Industry Solutions at Software AG explained that now because Gen Z makes up more than a third of the global population, “Selfridges and Harrods are right to try and attract younger shoppers into stores and retailers who ignore them will face their own peril.

“The key reason for this is that we are in an age whereby consumer habits commence with younger generations and move onto older generations.”

He noted Instagram as a key example as it started with teenagers but now the older generations are also avid users.

“Retailers investing to meet the requirements of Gen Z is not so much about spending power now, but about the generational influence it will have in the future as they lay the foundations for the future of living,” he added.

“The things that Gen Z look for in retail experiences set a high bar and are areas in which other generational cohorts will also desire one day.”

While department stores look to target these younger shoppers, can they do so successfully without alienating older consumers?

Daniel Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko, the marketing and experiential agency said it is possible: “Look at those who do it well with all age groups, the likes of Lush, Urban Outfitters, Apple and any sports brands stores.”

“They offer a little bit of something for all enhanced with great customer service.

“It needs to be somewhere people plan to go, not just need to go. This is especially true for Gen Z, those digital natives who perhaps seek something that their online world does not provide,” he added.

“The introduction of physical ‘pop ups’ in-store or tailored shopping destinations are designed to unite rather than alienate shoppers, and bring them to together in a universal experience which goes beyond ‘just shopping’.

“In a world that has seen the adoption of online shopping increase so rapidly, these experiences are key to entice new customers in store, regardless of generation.

“That said, traditional retailers do need to be wary of not becoming too focused on the interests of younger generations at the expense of older consumers.”

Ed Hill, SVP EMEA at Bazaarvoice explained that these new offerings such as Selfridge’s gaming destination and Harrods’ H Beauty stores will see younger and older shoppers alike opting to visit department stores, which traditionally have been seen to be more exclusive to older consumer groups.

He added that the disposable income available to the baby boomer generation is essential for the luxury market, something the likes of Harrods and Selfridges has built itself upon.

“Older consumers might be more convenience driven, compared to younger generations which are attracted by visuals and engaging experiences, but they all want a smooth and seamless shopping journey which provides the outcome they entered the store looking for,” Ed said.

“All retail journeys and experiences should be optimised to appeal to all generations.”

Alongside the existing new measures department store retailers have put in place, Nikki Baird, VP of Retail Innovation at Aptos emphasised that department stores have to continue giving Gen Z shoppers ample reasons to come to stores.

“Events, education, celebrities, etc. Gen Z is more about experiences than things,” she explained.

“That doesn’t mean they won’t buy things, but it does mean that retailers need to do more to create the events that lead to products. Department stores especially, since many brands they carry are available direct from the brands themselves or pretty much any place you want to look online.”

When asked if department store retailers are simply focusing on experiential retail rather than Gen Z shoppers, Ed Hill explained that department stores have been faced with a real battle for some time, and the pandemic has done nothing to help this.

“Experiential retail has become a focus for retail across the board, particularly as consumers seek heightened social experiences that have been missing for 18 months,” he added.

“There’s no doubt that department stores need to adapt and appeal to Gen Z shoppers, like every retailer does, and partnerships with brands that provide experiential experiences – as seen in Selfridge’s collaboration with Smartech for its gaming PlayHouse  –  can be a vital lifeline for retailers looking to remain relevant amongst younger audiences.”

After the last year wherein digital commerce has been at the fore, what has become clear is that physical retail needs to meet customer expectations and offer them the same interactive experience that they have online.

Nikki Baird said the problem is that many department stores have mistaken their company history for their brand.

“Department stores have a long and storied history, but they have let that history be what defines them to their customers,” she explained.

“That only has relevancy to older shoppers who have that shared history.”

Baird said that in digital-led retailing, “who” the brand is becomes the most important thing, because it’s what is most easily conveyed online.

“‘I have the best brands’ – what most department stores really have as their brand – does not translate,” she added.

“Having the best brands is meaningless when the best brands are literally one tab away in the browser.

“I think even the department stores that have invested in technology to revamp their image have gained some traction with Gen Z because they have cool ways to engage, but none of them have really invested in a true sense of brand or lifestyle that is differentiated from any other brand or retailer, and they will continue to struggle for relevancy until they do.”

Why have department store retailers been behind trends in recent years?

Melissa Minkow explained that because consumers don’t shop as frequently anymore with a specific brand in mind- they shop by category, the way department stores are merchandised doesn’t appeal to current shopping behaviours.

She added that the usual price points found in department stores tend to sit in the mid-range, which has been a decreasingly successful spot for retailers.

“It’s not necessarily that department stores have been behind trends, it’s more that they just don’t offer a value proposition suited to current consumer behaviours,” she said.

“Finally, with the rise of social media, retail has become an extremely quick-turn space for assortment. The Department Store model isn’t meant for this fast-fashion dominant retail culture.”

Lisette Huyskamp, chief marketing officer at Productsup added: “Department stores have undoubtedly struggled to Certain high street retailers have moved towards a successful omnichannel approach but many department stores have struggled to play catch-up in recent years and keep pace.

“While not a department store, a great example of what can happen when things go wrong is GAP. The American clothing company failed to invest heavily enough in its digital offering, resulting in severe job losses and the closure of all its UK and Ireland stores.

“Therefore, the John Lewis and Selfridges of the high street must hone in on what they do best and amplify this across multiple channels to truly offer customers a compelling experience that spans across in-store and online.”

Last month news broke that Amazon was looking to enter into department stores, leading many to ask if the ecommerce giant would disrupt existing retailers, much like it did for grocers across the UK after Amazon Go and Fresh opened doors.

Oliver Guy spoke on Amazon’s recent plans and said the new changes will accelerate how quickly organisations see that reinventing the store is essential.

“Other department stores only have one purpose – transactions,” he explained.

“Amazon’s venture will shake up the industry to provide new offerings and experiences to customers. Retailers will be watching carefully and working out how they are going to adapt to reflect this.”

Melissa Minkow added that department store brands that have been able to survive this rough retail period will likely uncover and borrow some best practices from Amazon’s efforts, while learning from the pitfalls.

“I wouldn’t say this move will revive the sector as a whole, but smart department retailers will learn from both the good and bad that come out of this experiment because Amazon is willing to take risks a heritage sector wouldn’t typically take,” said Minkow.

“In particular, Amazon’s move will force heritage department stores to rethink how convenient and seamlessly shoppable they are for consumers.

“Some of the reasons department stores have struggled- unpredictable inventory, staffing shortages, non-intuitive merchandising- will hopefully end up changing after Amazon executes in an exemplary way against those issues.

She explained that this could spur an overhaul of all current CX-related strategies for retailers such as John Lewis and Selfridges.

By Daniel Todaro, Managing Director, Gekko Group

Article published by Retail Gazette

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

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