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 Marialuisa Garito, Founder of Affordable Chic.
How has consumer shopping behavior evolved over the past 5 years?
Covid-19 accelerated what was already evolving in the culture of shopping — online shopping from personal devices. The pandemic drove consumers to rapidly accept and rely on e-commerce as their primary means of shopping. Online shopping enables shoppers to research products, buy anytime and anywhere, and do so on multiple devices. The resultant consumer behavior is a demanding one of high and speedy expectations: customers are more determined to find the best price and get the item as fast as possible. Shoppers are browsing multiple sites at the same time on their phone, tablet or laptop, and doing so from their couch, office or in their car waiting for their child’s soccer practice to end. Consumers are also more inclined to buy from companies who provide a rapid delivery time. Indeed, in the last 5 years, two-day shipping has become the standard consumer expectation. Online shopping exposed busy consumers to ways of saving money and saving time — consumers have become accustomed to increased selection, simple price comparison and ease of delivery. Money and time are two priceless commodities that will continue to drive consumer behavior in the tech oriented, over busy lives people lead.
What are the top 3 trends shaping the ways consumers shop?
Social Media, Google search and Affordability are the 3 trends shaping the way consumers shop. Social Media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok are the new “store window” for many consumers. On these platforms, shoppers young and old do their research to scout out the latest look to have and follow what is trending in fashion and other retail industries. When consumers are in need (or desire) of an item, one of the first actions they take before landing on their favorite online store is to perform a Google search for that item and scroll through images from various retail websites. This powerful tool enables consumers to get to know more brands and companies. In addition to facilitating the consumer’s broad choice of sites, both Social Media platforms and Google searches enable consumers to compare prices. In the last few years, and especially since the pandemic impacted the global economy, shoppers prioritize affordability. The trend of searching for the best prices across multiple sites — i.e., seeking affordability — is likely to remain and businesses must continue to compete to satisfy consumers’ price savvy shopping.
What’s the future of shopping?
The global pandemic has accelerated the escalated the role of technology in every aspect of life, including the shopping industry. On a positive note, technology enabled people to connect with the outside world when isolation was mandatory. As far as the future of the retail industry, I believe that due to the trend set during the pandemic, technology will still remain the bridge between consumers and retailers — online shopping will dominate the retail world given the ease of purchase and time saved in shopping from your office desk, dining room table or living room couch. I do however believe that the human connection — which technology has still not been able to substitute — is fundamental in any business and trusted human relationship, and my hope is that notwithstanding the ever-growing online shopping trend, we can return to a greater degree of face-to-face interactions in the future.
What are 3 actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future?
Digital Marketing is very competitive and can be an obstacle for small businesses who lack deep financial resources to put into their marketing strategies. However, with effort and focus, even small companies can break through to their target customers. I would recommend the following 3 actionable steps to prepare for the future of online shopping:
- Developing a directed strategy on how to brand their own company within the online shopping experience;
- Putting focused effort on spreading the company’s mission and raising brand awareness by using all free tools that are out there (eg, SEO, social media posts/videos with strong and short copy, blogs and newsletters);
- Despite selling primarily online (vs. in person), take steps to make the shopping experience feel individualized and meaningful to each customer using small personal touches (eg, send the customer’s package a short note or small bonus gift of thanks).