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John Schneider at the Shopper Marketing ConferenceI attended the shopper marketing conference at Old Navy Pier in Chicago from October 16 – 18. Shopper Marketing focuses on the shopper’s path to purchase, or said another way, the moment when people are in shopping mode. There is an important distinction between consumer marketing and shopper marketing with respect to focus, since the shopper is not always the same as the consumer of the product.

On face value, one might think shopper marketing theory largely focuses on the in-store shopping experience with marketing tactics such as point of sale displays. It was refreshing to see how much shopper marketing is evolving by embracing the entire shopper ecosystem. With 91% of smartphone owners less than 3 feet away from their phone year round, rich ecommerce experiences can be had instantly. To support the point that offline and online commerce are blurred, I was a bit surprised at the statistic that 54% of Wal-Mart shoppers visit walmart.com before going into the store.

People are seamlessly swimming through channels from consumer to shopper to advocate and back again, giving them all the power. Mobility enables product, pricing, and promotion transparency at an unprecedented level even though 70% of purchase decisions are still made at the shelf. Although in-store POS displays will continue to play a pivotal role in the sales process, they will reinforce the digital message as opposed to following it. This strategy is particularly resonant for the 50% of shoppers who already use the Internet, while physically shopping in-store.

This new connected consumer forces firms to shift from a brand centric strategy to a solution centric approach that is focused on a much broader and deeply connected system of in-store and online brand touch points.

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