The Future of Shopping – Insights From Kristaps Brencans

Raydiant’s new series, the Future of Shopping, interviews experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. 

The following is an interview we recently had with Kristaps Brencans, Chief Marketing Officer, On The Map.

How has consumer shopping behavior evolved over the past 5 years?

Consumer shopping behavior over the past 5 years has been shaped and influenced by growing e-commerce trends, and cellular devices making everything available at our fingertips at all times. Consumers are taking chances on new products they’ve seen on social media (often advertised by influencers), googling for reviews & details of the product, and comparing prices online, where they’re often willing to ship something in from another country for a better price-point. The pandemic introduced a massive surge of digital shopping because of consumer safety needs, as well as a stronger focus on the values of the brand; both trends that are likely to continue.

What are the top 3 trends shaping the ways consumers shop?

Consumers today are looking for brands that reflect their values. For younger generations, having a solid product or service is often no longer enough to guarantee brand loyalty. Consumers in today’s climate are increasingly socially and politically conscious, and so they want brands to be forthcoming with their values, and for those values to align with their own. Much different expectations of ethos are placed on brands than they were even 10 years ago.

D2C will continue dominating as consumers keep pushing for convenience and streamlined experiences. Cutting out the middleman and instead marketing straight to the consumer has proven to be the relationship building tactic that newer generations of buyers prefer. It’s also true that most direct-to-consumer brands focus on their e-commerce presence, and in a time when shopping online continues to explode, we can expect to see D2C marketing rise too. There will be tough competition, though, as heavy-hitter legacy brands start to hone their own D2C strategies after years of middleman reliance.

Non-partnership based social media shoutouts are increasingly causing high demand for specific products. More and more we’re seeing non-influencers on TikTok post about how well a product worked for them – with results – and those videos going viral with the product subsequently selling out across the internet and in store. Influencers obviously still have a lot of hold over the market, but people are drawn towards the average Joe recommending a product that they haven’t been paid to advertise; there’s more trust there.. Obviously this trend is luck based and unfortunately difficult for brands to push for, but it’s a trend all the same.

What's the future of shopping?

While there’s an obvious focus on e-commerce, the brick-and-mortar store has a solid place in the future architecture of consumer shopping habits. Retailers will have to take a step back and assess how to creatively engage their audiences to get them back to in-person shopping. Many are taking advantage of hybrid options, offering omnichannel approaches that allow consumers to interact with the brand both online and in store. It’s all about giving your audience options, but also the agency to choose what’s best for themselves. 

What are the 3 actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future?

Prepare to be transparent with your audience. Consumers today want to know what a business’s values are, how they have committed to inclusion & diversity, what social causes they’ve aligned with, how they treat their employees, and more. Prepare to be transparent with your audience about the very heart of things across the board. Being clear about these things might also help you stand out from competitors.

Don’t fight the call of the digital. E-commerce is here to stay. Do your best to create a robust, user-friendly e-commerce experience. Optimize your website, especially for mobile presentation as many consumers do all of their shopping on their cellphones. Building face-to-face trust between audience and brand is increasingly difficult, so start planning now to build a killer online portfolio and stand out.

Try not to focus on a single hot trend. In the era of social media, trends catch on fire and reach every corner of the internet within hours. It can be enticing for businesses to latch onto these trends and make the most of them while they’re hot. It’s more advisable, though, to focus on trends with longer-range potential, as they allow for more realistic planning of business strategies across the board. Hot trends are often snuffed out pretty quickly, and aren’t helpful to focus on long term.