Shopper experience has always been king; trip differentiator may be more crucial in 2012
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Retailers have always been about enhancing the shopping experience, but there are two factors this year that really should underscore the importance in that customer focus. Differentiating a retail shopping trip by experience is a lot friendlier to the margins because a shopper willing to trade on shopping experience also is willing to spend a little more. And with the proliferation of social media and apps for smartphones and tablets, there has never been a more efficient means to target a message to a shopper who is physically in the aisles and making a purchase decision than today.
(THE NEWS: 2012 will be all about the customer. For the full story, click here.)
As noted in DSN’s Dec. 12, 2011, ‘Tale of Two Retails’ coverage, more retailers are targeting higher-end shoppers because they’re more likely to be ahead of the curve in economic recovery and less likely to be as penny-senistive. Within pharmacy retailing, that’s been evident across both CVS/Caremark and Walgreens with their upscale department-store beauty experiences in Beauty360 and Look Boutique formats, respectively. And Walgreens has even been making a long-term play against electric car owners, most of whom make more than $100,000 on average, according to a J.D. Power survey.
The latest Walgreens flagship stores represent this push toward shopping chic in many of their additional services — manicures, brow bars, on-site sushi preparation and juice bars — as well as a commitment to technology that enables a ‘richer’ shopping experience — the virtual bartender kiosk adjacent to an upscale wine selection or the Maybelline touchscreen beauty kiosk that now is Facebook-enabled.
And it’s the functionality of that experience that really stands out with shoppers. The Temkin Group released its survey of 10,000 consumers on what makes for a good customer experience earlier this week (for the story, click here). According to that survey, Sam’s Club, Publix and Subway were tops in functional experience. The top 10 also included Winn-Dixie, ShopRite, Kroger and H-E-B. And while those Walgreens flagship stores still are relatively new, Walgreens was one of the companies to score high in functional excellence as well.
Accessibility experience was another significant driver of the overall customer experience. Again, Sam’s Club, Publix and Subway were on the top of that experience factor, too, though that list of optimal accessibility experiences also included Walgreens, CVS Caremark and Rite Aid.
But these days, just as important as the in-store experience is how each retailer is engaging its customer. As many as 75% of an on-the-go audience take action after seeing a location-specific message, according to JiWire’s latest Mobile Audience Insights Report (for the story, click here). The top three actions included clicking on location-specific ads (31%), searching for the nearest location (21%) and/or conducting additional research (21%). After clicking on an ad, iPhone users were most likely to conduct additional research (22%), Android users searched for the nearest location (25%) and Blackberry users immediately made a purchase (21%).
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Survey: 3-out-of-4 people shopping with tablet in hand respond to on-site messaging
SAN FRANCISCO — Three-of-every-4 consumers using smartphones and tablets respond to a call to action after seeing a location-specific message, according to the "Mobile Audience Insights Report" issued by JiWire on Wednesday.
Specifically, 80% of the on-the-go audience preferred locally relevant advertising, and 75% were more likely to take an action after seeing a location-specific message. The top three actions included clicking on location-specific ads (31%), searching for the nearest location (21%) and/or conducting additional research (21%). Behavior further varied by smartphone device type. After clicking on an ad, iPhone users were most likely to conduct additional research (22%), Android users searched for the nearest location (25%) and Blackberry users immediately made a purchase (21%).
“It is exciting to see how important location-specific messaging is to consumers today,” stated David Staas, SVP marketing at JiWire. “As the on-the-go audience demands locally relevant information, brands need to focus on reaching consumers in and around their locations.”
In-store comparison shopping on a mobile device has become the No. 1 mobile behavior across all ages and gender. Similar to Pew Research’s findings that “one-third used their phone specifically for online information while inside a physical store,” JiWire also found this trend to be true, with 34% of on-the-go consumers participating in comparison-shopping behavior. JiWire’s report also delved a little deeper and found that 39% of consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 years old were the most likely to comparison shop in store, with 13% making a purchase on their mobile devices instead of in the store.
Other key findings: Consumers are four times more likely to search for reviews than to search for a friend’s recommendation; and 21% of consumers searched for coupons while in store. This recent phenomenon has caused online coupons to take off and become more popular over the years, JiWire noted. As many as 34% of consumers have redeemed an online coupon in the past 90 days. Additionally, mobile coupon redemption is rapidly nearing newspaper coupon redemption thresholds, with 18% redeeming mobile coupons and 22% redeeming newspaper coupons.
Tablets continued to dominate market share with significant growth across both the United States and United Kingdom, including the iPad, which saw substantial gains in the fourth quarter. The iOS and Android platforms increased in market share while Windows OS decreased. For the first time, the HP Touchpad, Kindle Fire and the Samsung Tablet have entered the Top 10 mobile devices.
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Sears Holdings reaches out to African-American entrepreneurs
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart operator Sears Holdings is emphasizing a program that it said is designed to empower African-American entrepreneurs.
The company said it would continue its "Share the Word?" program through 2012, its fifth year, and focus on African-American entrepreneurs with the Own a Sears Store program.
According to census data, the number of African-American-owned businesses increased at triple the national rate over the past five years, while a recent study by the Small Business Administration found that African-Americans are 50% more likely to start a business than any other racial or ethnic group.
Through the Own a Sears Store program, the company offers training and support for retail franchise concepts, such as Sears Appliance Showrooms, Sears Appliance & Hardware Stores and Sears Auto Centers.
"The desire and interest in owning a business is huge among African-Americans; and, in terms of sheer number, black-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of our economy," Black Enterprise magazine SVP and editor-at-large Alfred Edmond said in a statement on behalf of Sears Holdings.
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