Tag Archives: Shopping

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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How to benefit from the forthcoming massive wave of ad spend

The recent IPA Bellwether on marketing budgets in the UK has revealed that 2020 saw a fast paced decrease in spend as the effects of the pandemic naturally hit home. Now, as we continue to emerge from the worst of the effects, their forecasts are that there will be a net balance growth of 17.4% which would be the largest increase since 2018.

For the UK, this spend should total up to around £27bn for 2021, with another 7.2% growth predicted for 2022, so how will this be spent? It is clear that the main increases are predicted for Main Media Advertising (10.1%), Public Relations (7.4%), and Direct Marketing (6.8%). The cuts here are reserved for Events (-28.4%) which are still particularly struggling from Covid restrictions, but also Other Marketing (-5.4%) and Market Research (-4.95%).

For many, Main Media Advertising is a must for spend given the reach and benefits it can bring. However some of the other categories are, I believe, up for debate and it would be a mistake to purely dictate spending purely based on variable forecasts without acknowledging what exactly your priorities are and how best to connect with your consumer in order to garner their loyalty.

A new determined consumer mindset

We are gradually coming out of lockdown and consumers continue to be excited about it, indeed 88% of consumers from our latest retail survey results claimed that they have already taken advantage of physical shops being open to make purchases. They are emerging with a determined mind-set, using their new found online skills to narrow down their options before heading to the store to browse and make the final purchase. Now is the ideal time to have boots on the ground in retail areas rather than just generic PR pushes, helping them through their customer journey and promoting your brand to them.

The brand awareness required to engage this consumer can’t come out of Media Advertising or PR spend alone, other channels need to be utilised to ensure you are standing out in a sea of competition. Social media reach can help to a certain extent, however no amount of impressions will replicate getting face to face time with a shopper at the point of purchase. Importantly too, the data that comes from the physical interactions a person is able to provide can prove vital and brings incredibly valuable impact and insights in a short amount of time.

Footfall soars ahead of high-spirited summer

The retail environment is changing and has been particularly fluid over the past year, this data is critical to understanding the new trends that have emerged and forming (or re-forming) brand strategies. Insight from Kantar, online shopping fell in April for what was the second time in a row, and Springboard footfall data showed an increase of 88% week on week for the period that non-essential retail reopened after the 12th. All of this points to the fact that there are more shoppers out there than have been for 14 months, there is a chance here to connect with them while confidence is high and a (hopefully) high-spirited summer begins.

Online share of retail sales is decreasing, although the benchmark remains above the pre-pandemic figure, settling at about 36% in April vs 23% in 2020. This of course indicates the acceleration of a trend that has been growing for a while, but it does mostly remain product specific, and nothing will ever really replace the experiences that in store shopping can offer. The store now is becoming more of an experience hub as well as a purchase point. In-store marketing continues to have the power to not only increase actual sales, but also other key factors such as brand loyalty and even helping to drive social media interactions.

Staying ahead of the competition

When it comes to consumer electronics and large appliances in particular, many consumers will always prefer to touch a product and hear about its benefits first-hand rather than reading a specification sheet online. Hearing their input, from questions to reasons for purchase, can then be fed back directly to a brand, enabling them to react and stay ahead of the competition.

In this new age of retail, the smartest businesses will be the ones that can leverage ad spend across the board in order to reach consumers at every level relevant to them. Effective field marketing can step in to help exceed expectations.

To read the full article by Tom Harwood – Data and Insight Manager Gekko Group, please visit Retail Sector.

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Back to the future: Retailers need a new approach for winning customers

The easing of lockdown measures, although slow and steady, has come as a welcome relief for retailers. We can now work towards rebuilding through the eventual easing of all restrictions.

While the lockdowns have been long and painful, the appetite to return and shop in-store remains strong. But it would be naive to just act as though it was still 2020 in reopening and returning to the same plan. It is incumbent on retailers to recognise how consumers have changed their shopping behaviours.

Successful retailers have always understood the motivators and triggers for different customer groups and then offering an appropriate, tailored approach. This needs to be recognised and acted upon.

We recently took the temperature of the nation with a survey of changed shopping behaviours – with some interesting and encouraging results. The vast majority polled (70 per cent) revealed they were planning on visiting stores as much, or more than pre-pandemic. Only two per cent of respondents said they wouldn’t return to the high street. But digging into the detail we can start to see some distinct trends within this.

Localism remains strong

A new appreciation of localism has been one big factor that has brought our communities closer and changed perceptions that local perhaps meant less choice, as 35 per cent of respondents said they have purchased from a local or independent store that they would not have done pre-pandemic.

Meanwhile, the expectation might have been the very oldest might be the most loyal to the high street; interestingly, 35-44 year olds in our survey were the most loyal.

With the different factors motivating consumers to return to shops, 27 per cent of over-55s said the enjoyment of shopping was the thing they were looking forward to most. But this compared with only 15 per cent of under-55s. 81 per cent of respondents cited convenience as a key factor; this trend was most prominent in 18-24 year olds.

There is potential for physical retailers to target younger consumers with a focus on the unparalleled customer experience in-person shopping can achieve.

Flaws in online

Despite the huge choice online, the idea that consumer behaviour has been entirely different digitally was somewhat dispelled by the research. 49 per cent of respondents said they mainly shopped from the same stores online that they always used to visit offline.

But our research also really highlights the flaws in the online experience. A massive 58 per cent cited issues with ordering as a key disadvantage to online shopping. Interestingly, issues with orders was selected most prominently in people aged 34 and under.

Those most concerned by returns were 55-64 year olds in comparison with 18-24s who were least concerned. This highlights the different ways people have been brought up shopping. Given environmental issues are a concern to younger shoppers, we should perhaps emphasise more the fact physical retail can reduce a consumer’s carbon footprint.

A hybrid approach

Rather than just focusing on one channel now at the expense of another, if the pandemic has taught us anything it is the strength of having a hybrid omni-channel offering – being agile and flexible to respond to changing customer requirements.

Certainly consumers seem adept at mixing and matching their in-person and online shopping. For example, 38 per cent would use new online skills to research an item online and then buy it in-store, and over-65s are the most likely to do this (54 per cent).

This underscores the need for a joined up brand and retail experience. This is particularly the case with the considered purchase sector; as we came out of previous lockdowns, consumers have shown a willingness to ‘shop with purpose’ in- store for items they have researched online.

As we return to something akin to normality, it is clear just rolling out a 2019/2020 strategy won’t cut it. The desire for physical retail is there, but we need to understand people’s changed realities.

Retail is one of the most dynamic industries, and changing to meet the needs of consumers has been the hallmark of great retailers in the past and will be tomorrow. Let’s get back to the future.

To read the full article please visit ERT.

The photo that accompanies this article is by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

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New Gekko survey finds the majority of shoppers have returned to stores

With retail lockdowns across the UK now easing, our research has found that 88% of shoppers have returned to physical stores in the first two weeks and felt good about it!

At Gekko we are always looking to better understand the customer journey at all stages of the shopping cycles in all categories. We do this to gain a wider understanding of the retail environment, allowing us to better train our staff and serve our clients.

Back in February, while non-essential retail was still subjected to lockdown restrictions, we surveyed consumers to gauge their shopping intentions once lockdown ended. Our Great British Retail Take Off survey revealed that there was a huge pent up demand to return to the high street with 70% of people planning on visiting stores as much, or more than pre-pandemic and with key motivators being the ability to physically interact with products and have an enjoyable experience.

With the majority of retail restriction now lifted, Gekko wanted to revisit the subject and gain an insight into whether the public have returned to stores in the levels that said they would in the previous survey. Further from this, we wanted to see how the public felt about the way stores are trying to keep them safe. The survey, which was conducted between 26th-30th April, two weeks following the reopening of non-essential retail, provides an insight into the positive sentiments of UK shoppers have regarding stores reopening.

Indications are that physical retail is back, and shoppers are excited to return. Through the responses from this survey, and the comparison between these results and our previous Great British Retail Take-Off survey, we are able to see several noticeable trends.

In a win for bricks and mortar shops, people have visited stores more in the two weeks since restrictions were eased than they did pre-pandemic (previously predicted at 12%, now at 18%). This is backed up by the fact that 87% of people returned to physical stores at least once in the 2 weeks after lockdowns were eased, compared with only 70% who said they were looking forward to returning to store in our previous results.

The overwhelming majority (80%) of people who had returned to store felt that stores were doing enough to make them feel safe. Retail has continued to adapt at every stage of the pandemic, and the fact that so many are willing and able to get back out and shop safely is testament to that.

About the research -The online consumer survey was conducted by Gekko between 26th – 30th April 2021.

To find out more about this survey please visit our website or to obtain a full copy of the report, please contact us at info@gekko-uk.com

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Getting ready for the post-covid retail boom

From being in the grip of the second wave in a bleak mid-Winter two months ago with so much uncertainty and anxiety there really has been a remarkable turnaround due to the determination of all to fix this situation. A majority of the population have been vaccinated and sunnier days are here literally, well almost, but also metaphorically. The Bank of England say the economy is all set to bounce back quickly, driven by a boom that will dwarf predecessors in its intensity and size, predicting that Britons will spend around 5% of the estimated £250bn of savings accumulated over the past year. Others predict nearer 20%, which would still be £50bn.

It is already time to start predicting what will be the key drivers for growth in this transitional period. The roaring twenties were brought about after hardship which triggered a rebound in consumer spending and prosperity. Even if what is to come doesn’t quite last as long, there will still be a heightened passion to enjoy a return to normality and indulgence in the things consumers have missed out on the most. Whilst the 1920’s was more than a lifetime ago, most of us remember the 90’s. The latter part became ‘cool Britannia’ creating a wave of confidence which undoubtedly became the precursor for the shared will and determination to be ourselves today and do it with swagger.

So how do brands and retailers plan for this, project their swagger and reward customers who have remained loyal? Gekko has pulled together some key insights and trends to consider with retail doors open once again.

Consumer confidence is back

Research by McKinsey & Company shows that optimism regarding the UK’s economic recovery is at the highest recorded level during the COVID-19 crisis. Despite different generations experiencing decreased household income and/or increased savings, optimism has also led to an increase in spending. Forty-seven percent of consumers showed an intent to splurge in 2021 to reward themselves for the trials and tribulations of the past year. Younger consumers, especially Gen Z, 71% are indicating a higher intent to spend or treat themselves, and are keen to get back to enjoying themselves.

The rise of localism

It is likely that a significant proportion of pent up spend may continue on local businesses which have found plenty of support during the pandemic. YouGov found out last year that 64% of people want to support local businesses and buy local products. This has been borne out by our own recent survey of predicted consumer behaviour post-lockdown. 35% of respondents said they have purchased from a local or independent store that they would not have done pre-pandemic. Meanwhile 52% of men, and 49% of women have been more loyal than not to their high street stores. While the expectation might have been the very oldest might be the most loyal to the High Street, interestingly 35-44 year olds were the most loyal, with 74% professing loyalty to their High Street. This shows the strength of multi-age support we have had for the local businesses who have so supported us during this time.

Although the trend may quieten once all stores reopen, local share of business will remain higher than it was pre-pandemic, and is an area to utilise for retailers. The personal experience and convenience of local can be tapped into. With most people still working from home, local shopping is set to continue this year and beyond to meet the needs of its immediate community.

Innovations led by physical retail are set to continue

An encouraging aspect of the past year has been the ability of smart retailers and indeed physical businesses of all description to pivot and adapt to survive. While there have been some high profile casualties, the reality remains those who have been nimble have seen the benefit. It has also shown up the myth that all innovation occurs within the digital realm. It is likely that more than a few of the innovations will last in this new retail era which continues to evolve. For example there is renewed and growing enthusiasm for click and collect, due to the convenience and hygienic aspects. It is now an embedded part of many consumer journeys, especially in grocery shopping, but also increasingly in all non-essential retail. Our own research has shown that over 35% of people want to see this trend continue even after the pandemic. Retailers need to react to those continuing to want to use this method. An obvious example being upselling products in a collection environment.

There will be a continuing overlap of online and offline in some purchasing journeys. In response, retailers should make sure they offer a slick omnichannel experience which will appeal to all generations. Click and collect will remain a great way to appeal to Generation Z. This is an audience that wants to shop online but also have a focus on sustainability with concerns about the environmental impact of the deliveries in terms of the distance travelled and packaging.

Customer experience is crucial

With online shopping now fully embedded, physical retailers need to emphasise the instore user experience to provide that differentiating factor from the online realm. A good customer experience means your customers will spend more. In fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. The more expensive the item, the more they are willing to pay, according to a research from PWC. CX also influences on-the-spot purchasing too, as 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience. A Walker study found that at the end of 2020, customer experience had overtaken price and product as the key brand differentiator. This becomes increasingly more important amongst those generations that intend to spend more than they’ve saved.

Looking at our research, when asked what makes people want to return to the High Street, the experience was the thing that was really missed. 62% said it was the ability to see, hold and try a product. while 52% miss the ability to browse. The same number, 52% reported the sheer enjoyment of shopping as a key factor in returning.

Retailers should react by stimulating the senses and having the right experts instore. People who truly understand the product, can answer questions and can close a sale. This is something the online world can not replicate. To complement the expert, think about presenting those products in an appealing way. You will want to focus on products that that have increased in popularity during the pandemic – those supporting lives now more centred at home. Make them visually appealing with great displays and demos. Ensure you have clearly labelled product details, features and benefits and ensure any promotions are clearly highlighted, ie. what it integrates or works well with.

Prepare for the megapeak!

As we bounce back from these long months closed, retailers have the opportunity to make up for lost time with a real focus on peak trading times and trends. We may not all be going on holiday but we will be taking holiday and enjoying summer as best we can. This year peak trading times will return like no other year. In Q4 2020, we saw the advent of what could be described as a 10 week ‘mega peak’ that upended the usual promotional strategies of the season. Average spend went up to £86.06 (+£7.22 vs 2019). The goalposts were shifted once Amazon announced that Prime Day would move into October from July. Black Friday and Christmas plans that have become retail tradition saw this newcomer arriving earlier and reacted by also shifting their strategies accordingly, leading to an extended mega peak. The expectations are now set for this year, and it is unlikely that Amazon will give up its new slot without a fight. Wunderman Thompson predict it will again aim to be the one to kick off the festive promotional period.

Others will need to get their operations ready to counter, the right marketing, offers, and consumer experience will be vital. At least this time they have more notice. We may have changed in many ways but the propensity of shoppers to spend as a key way back to normal life looks certain.

Retailers need to be ready as we look forward to the boom and continuous change.

To read the full article please visit Retail Sector.

The photo that accompanies this article is by Amina Filkins from Pexels

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The Great British retail take off: 70% of consumers plan significant return to High Street

There is a huge desire to get back to the High Street, according to a new survey by Gekko on consumer shopping intentions when lockdown ends. 70% of people are planning on visiting stores as much, or more than pre-pandemic when they reopen in April with only 2% of respondents saying they wouldn’t return to the High Street. However nearly half of shoppers want reduced store capacity to continue due to coronavirus still being in circulation.

Pent up demand
The research identifies a huge desire and pent up demand to return to the High Street with key motivators being the ability to physically interact with products and have an enjoyable experience. When asked what makes people want to return to the High Street, 62% said it was the ability to see, hold and try a product, 53% support the High Street, while 52% miss the ability to browse. The same number, 52% reported the sheer enjoyment of shopping as a key factor in returning. In terms of shops they were looking forward to visiting, nearly three quarters (73%) of people were looking forward to returning to a clothes stores, 38% to garden/DIY stores and 23% to technology stores. Men are 3 times more excited about visiting tech stores compared to women. Meanwhile 24% of consumers are planning a shopping splurge when lockdown eases with 18-24 year olds the most likely to splash out (40%).

Covid safety measures
With Covid nerves still very much apparent, 86% of respondents don’t want shopping to return to exactly the way it was pre-pandemic. Nearly half of respondents (49%) want reduced store capacity to continue, which will be at odds with retailers’ desire to attract the masses back in-store. 61% want to keep hand sanitizer points and nearly a third (31%) want more click and collect. However only 11% said they wanted limited contact with goods to stay, reinforcing the fact that people like to ‘try before you buy’. For the 30% of Brits planning to visit stores less, COVID safety concerns were the most cited reason.

Changed shopping habits
While online has benefited greatly from the pandemic, the research also identified that supporting local businesses is high on consumers’ priorities. Over a third (35%) of respondents revealed they have purchased from a local or independent store that they would not have done pre-pandemic. Over half (52%) of men and 49% of women have been more loyal to their local high street stores. Younger people are independent stores’ most supportive group online, with 47% of 18-24 year olds responding saying that they shopped with them. Interestingly 38% would use new online skills to research an item online and then buy it instore supporting people’s wishes to get back to the High Street.

According to Daniel Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko: “With light now appearing at the end of the tunnel, it is even more important to understand how consumer behaviour may have changed, what people are now used too, and what they are excited about when it comes to returning to physical retail. Encouragingly, our research shows despite some less than favourable predictions, the demand for physical retail remains strong. The research shows that absence makes the heart grow fonder with consumers missing the ability to see, hold and try products and the sheer enjoyment that sensory pleasure brings, with online unable to replace this experience. However consumers remain cautious at this stage with a preference for measures to be in place. As the vaccine rollout continues and lockdown eases, retailers will hope these concerns will fade away.”

About the research -The online survey of 541 consumers was carried out by Gekko in February.

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

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Retail and Ecommerce in 2021 Questionnaire

Click here to participate in the questionnaire

Here at Gekko we are always looking to better understand the customer journey at all stages of the shopping cycles in all categories. Whilst non-essential retail remains closed and we have, as a nation, been forced to change our shopping habits, we would like to ask your opinion on how you have shopped during the era of the pandemic.

You might have shopped more, shopped less, made the shift online, or are holding out for the stores to reopen. Please put yourself in the position of you as the shopper and your personal experiences to let us know more by answering the following questions.

All responses will be anonymous, and the survey should only take about 5 minutes of your time. The findings will then be aggregated to better understand how shopping behaviours have been influenced over the past year and possibly into the future.

The survey will run up to the 21st February, and we will collate the results shortly afterwards.

The photo that accompanies this article is by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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Four positive signals of a happy new year for retailers in 2021

The resilience of retail has been a remarkable success story of 2020 in the face of continuing huge challenges. The pandemic has forced new ways of trading, from the obvious ways of ensuring COVID-safe spaces to rethinking how to target consumers spending the majority of their lives at home. For the retailers left standing, this period of dramatic change will have stiffened their sinews and made them lean, adaptable and ready for when the good times return. There are encouraging signs and we’ve looked at some recent data that provide four signals for real optimism about 2021.

Retailers embrace an omnichannel strategy
The first lockdown came as a hammer blow to the industry. With retail outlets shut throughout the country, consumers shifted rapidly online and overall sales fell sharply . Despite this, the growth in ecommerce couldn’t make up for the volume lost through the doors of physical retail. While the first lockdown was a shock to us all, this time retailers have been far better prepared. The BRC-ShopperTrak footfall monitor for November revealed that footfall across all UK shopping destinations fell by 65.4 per cent compared with the same month last year, due to England’s lockdown. According to the ONS, retail sales volumes last month were 3.8 per cent lower than in October, ending a six months of growth. However the drop was smaller than analysts had expected and sales remained 2.6 per cent above February’s level, in the year to November. This was all the more impressive given lockdown forced many shops to close during the month. Indeed Dixons Carphone’s recently released half year results indicating a strong performance despite the challenges.

This shows the ongoing resilience of retail with retailers coming up with the right enticing offers to encourage spending. They had adapted to the changed circumstances and ensured they could reach consumers instore or at home. In 2020 the old online/ offline dichotomy has become more irrelevant with all brands and retailers needing an omni-channel strategy to ensure they can best respond to the needs of customers. This is the best way to remain relevant and operate in the future.

Pent up demand for physical retail experience
Despite online retail’s undoubted increase of the share of the cake, reports of the death of physical retail have been greatly exaggerated. After each lockdown there has been huge pent up demand in evidence whenever retail has been allowed to operate. This is despite uniquely off putting circumstances for consumers to venture out. Recent data shows a bigger picture of the return to stores following the lifting of lockdown 2, with footfall increasing by over 19.9% as determined consumers returned to stores ready to purchase after weeks away. High streets and shopping centres have been the real drivers of growth, having suffered the most in November.

Our own analysis of consumer behaviour based on in store behaviour, the G-Index,  has continually been updated post lockdown and we now have over 200 responses from around the country in various stores. 47% remain happy coming into stores, while there has been an increase in those feeling cautious. With that in mind, 90% of retailers have staff on the door managing footfall amongst many other measures designed to maintain a safe environment for all customers. They have impressively reacted to ensure they are COVID safe and have made sure they have communicated this to their shoppers. They have responded in a responsible and agile manner and generated enormous good will that will stand them in good stead for the future. After all if people are still wanting to venture out during a pandemic, we can be guaranteed they will flock to stores when we have the vaccines rolled out and no longer have to be scared of strangers.

Capitalising on the new trend of ‘shopping with purpose’
One real trend we have seen during the pandemic is ‘shopping with purpose’. This is consumers wanting to make less journeys out but when they do, not returning empty handed.Our own analysis for December is showing a healthy growth in conversion rate of 51%. This was due to pent up demand and people returning to stores with a real purpose to buy. This is particularly the case with categories like consumer electronics with higher ticket items and people less willing to buy online. We may be less willing to venture out but when we do we want to make it count. Smart brands and retailers have realised this and have really focused on making the most of these opportunities for engagement. A great retail environment and well thought through customer experience is always crucial but never more so than now. Additionally a recent IDC Retail Consumer Insights Survey found that 59% of global customers are likely to shop elsewhere if they can’t buy online and pick up in-store. In comparison, 48% said they’d find another retailer if they can’t see in-store availability online.

The rise in prominence of the trusted sales expert

As we have been beset with Amazon packages we have realised something very crucial through absence, namely the importance of a trained expert to provide guidance and advice. For big ticket items, we simply haven’t been able to get the advice we need with information online perhaps answering the ‘what’ a product does and ‘how’ it works but is never able to respond to our unique reasons of ‘why’ we need it. This has been demonstrated by the impressive conversion rates we have witnessed of demonstrations leading to sales. When parting with a significant sum on considered purchases we want to speak to a human who can understand a product’s role in a customer’s life and make recommendations. A further investment in these experts will represent a smart strategy for the next year.  Of course this advice can also be given on the phone in a world of social distancing and many brands have invested in staff in call centres to answer more specific questions about how products can fit into changed lives.

While the vaccine offers the promise of a return to a more normal life, we will all be changed by this experience. Despite the tough times, retailers have shown the strength and adaptability to respond to customers’ changed needs. As the clock chimes midnight this New Year’s Eve perhaps we can be confident we can mean it this time when we say ‘Happy New Year’.

To read the full article please visit Retail Sector.

The photo that accompanies this article by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

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Taking back control

We’ve talked for so long about the high street and in particular independent retailers being the beating heart of the community and how the internet, large retail parks and changes in consumer behaviour has rocked this foundation to the core. We’re at the point where independent retailers are becoming a rare breed and, as such, local high streets become less appealing.

Whilst none of us could have imagined the COVID-19 situation to happen, it’s been such an almighty step change in the way we live.

Our fundamental societal roles have changed – working, shopping, education – as well as our attitudes to the community roles we all took for granted; our NHS, bin men, local butchers, bakers, milk deliverers have all been elevated to heroes in our communities.

But will this lead to a reappraisal of the role of independent retailers in the community? Will consumers look differently upon what they may have previously considered out of date?

So with a new captive audience and acceptance of service to society, how can independent retailers revive their fortunes by socialising their new audience and retain them through experiences? We all understand the power of retail experiences, but we now need to plan ahead and look at this with a post COVID- 19 social lens. Let’s face it, people have been thoroughly enjoying pubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas recently as they have missed doing this for quite some time. This includes the experience of physical retail and reliving the enthusiasm of consumerism as a pastime, rather than having another brown box left outside their front door.

Don’t just do the same

My first piece of advice. We’ll soon have a drastic change in seasons and there will be new product ranges ready and waiting to go. Remind people why they like physical shopping. The ability to see, feel and choose – think about layouts and colour, fun and opportunity for helpful conversation and engagement.

Westfield, the shopping centre chain, released its ‘How We Shop’ report discussing the biggest retail trends to date and what the future holds. The report said that 2025 is the tipping point year when more than half of retail square meterage will be dedicated to experiences rather than product.

A colossal 81 per cent of shoppers interviewed said they would be willing to pay more for experience, 75 per cent will spend more in stores that offer experiences as well as product, and 42 per cent want to see more creative experiences in store.

As an independent retailer, you may think that your store cannot compete with Westfield in terms of size, scale and budget, but recent consumer behaviour has shown that ‘local’ is just as important. So keep on fighting and entice consumers with products that appeal to their needs and desires to get out and shop and treat themselves. Make that contrast between the anonymity and soullessness that can be experienced by online shopping and the personal experience that local businesses can offer.

With 40 per cent of all online sales during the first three weeks in lockdown being ‘non-food’, the challenge is to win back those consumers who may have had no alternatives, particularly with distress purchases, to shop online. Take back control and don’t let go of your customer base.

Enhance the experience

The experience is the glue that holds this together. An experiential model can streamline logistics and free up cash flow, allowing your sales advisers time to spend helping customers.

Unlike the typical retail model that is focussed on immediate sales, the experiential model aims to drive traffic into the shop and extend the customer’s dwell time in the space. Even if it doesn’t result in immediate physical sales, it can still be a longer term win as customers who spend time browsing tend to buy more expensive items and come back time and again.

So think about how you could enhance the experience – whether it’s smaller or bigger ranging, specialisation, marketing, PR, advertising, training or extra services. And then how do you socialise it? Free coffee, a fitting service, desk space to speak to someone face to face, new displays, improved window dressing, giving back to the community, offering key worker discounts?

With an estimated £12.6 billion in revenue forecast to be lost from UK retail sales in 2020 and 34 per cent of people worried about the economic recovery, the impact of COVID-19 could be long-term. So, keep your head up and make a good case for every valuable consumer pound being spent. Appeal to a national new found sense of community and locality and aim to socialise the shopping experience.

To read the full article please visit ERT.

The photo that accompanies this article is by Burst from Pexels

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Do millennials ignore the environmental impact of online shopping?

gekko-retail-marketing-new-gekko-survey-finds-the-majority-of-shoppers-have-returned-to-stores

As high street retail continues to deplete and more people shop online, increasing to 19% of all retail sales in December 2019*, a new report by retail marketing experts Gekko shows there’s increasing consumer concern about the environmental and societal impact of this transition and a marked difference in attitude depending on age.

The younger generation may tout their eco credentials but they are more easily lured into wasteful spending and shopping online with over half (53%) of 18-24 and 46% of 25-34 year olds admitting to being tempted into buying things they don’t need online, with just 19% of canny 55+ year olds saying the same.

More than five times as many 18-24 as 55+ year olds admitted to regularly buying goods online that they regret, so return them – 17% versus just 3%. And 45% of 18-24 and 42% of 25-34 year olds also admitted to being wasteful buying items they didn’t want and failing to return them, compared to only 17% of older consumers.

Surprisingly and despite the high profile of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, younger shoppers make less conscious choices than some may think about the environmental impact of online shopping versus older consumers. In general, 73% of consumers are concerned about excess packaging associated with online purchase and deliveries and 74% are worried about the amount of single use plastic in packaging.

However, just over a third (38%) of 18-24 and 33% of 24-35 year olds are unconcerned about the use of excessive packaging. This compares to 19% of over 55 year olds. And despite it being such a huge national issue and talking point over the last year, 34% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 24-35 year olds aren’t concerned about single use plastic, versus 19% of over 55 year olds.

Even the gig economy does not seem to be a problem for the generation arguably most likely to be more exploited by it, with 50% of 18 to 24 years olds unconcerned about online shopping increasing it versus 33% of 55+ year olds. And 44% of 18-24 year olds don’t fret about the impact on the High Street and local economy of online shopping, versus 23% of 55+ year olds.

According to Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko: “Younger generations spend more time online and are therefore less inclined to resist that impulse buy. They are far more likely to buy things they regret, order more than one size, items they never intend to keep and send the goods back, but this convenience has an environmental impact.

“The future of the High Street is a vital societal component and offers a more ethical approach to shopping. If you can try before you buy there’s less transport, packaging and waste without the need to order multiple sizes or colours of the same item. The High Street sustains the heart of a community, no shops means no point heading to the High Street – there’s only so much coffee a community can afford or want to drink.”

To read the full article please visit BDaily.

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