The Slippery Shopper

I don’t need to tell you that the customer is a slippery fish. You’re here because you know that and you need to stay on top of the game. You know that every year consumers come to the checkout a little more informed by product spec-sheets and customer reviews.

It’s been a long journey since the inception of e-commerce in 1991 and, since then, the only constant has been change. Small-fry shops like Amazon that were spawned in people’s garages have become dominant market forces with the power to decimate many traditional retailers. Some see this as a threat but the smart money is on seeing the opportunity. As new technologies destabilize old channels, early adopters can gain a lot of ground in a short time.

You Can’t Tell the Mind of a Squid

Like the mysterious squid, the Slippery Shopper moves backward and forward with seemingly little reason. Once, it was fine to chase after customers’ attention. But the market is so elusive now, if you aren’t already in front of them when they decide to buy they’re unlikely to take the bait. The behavioural predictions on how to lure these wily consumers in over the coming year vary wildly. We’ll try and give you an idea that’s solid, like tuna, instead of flaky, like tuna.

  • Be on top of the slide to mobile. Holy mackerel! Phones and tablets are already rocking about a third of the market for e-commerce. The next few years will put it pretty close to the half mark. Companies hire specialists and put a lot of money and effort into design and renovation before they open a store but they don’t always think their online store needs as much of an investment.
  • Don’t make customers swim upstream. Since you’re getting your mobile game on point, give some thought to in-app support. Provide customers with the assistance that takes them from browsing to checkout without having to flounder around. You also get to deal with crabby clients before their problem hardens into a grudge against your brand.It’s nice to have a chat widget that links the client to a live person but, as mentioned earlier, customers are ever more educated about your product. Is it worth the negative impression to save a few dollars with poorly trained customer service reps who are outpaced by potential clients that came to them for answers?
  • More customer research = less brand loyalty. What’s in a name? If the new model of a product isn’t up to snuff, people will hear about it quickly so companies with established names are being forced to perform harder against the little fish who want to take over the big pond. The flip-side of that is that word of mouth from a really stellar product can give a company a fighting chance at a comeback.
  • Target carefully. With everybody talking about an omni-channel strategy, it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘omni-channel’ and forget about the ‘strategy’. Cast too wide a net and most of your haul will be of no use to you. By making sure that you’re always using each technology to answer a customer need, rather than for its own sake, you only fish where you know they’re biting.
  • Deliver differently. Want a car to deliver a coffee and sandwich to your place? Want a car to deliver you to someplace and pick up a coffee and sandwich before it comes to get you? Those are out there. Pay attention to the little inconveniences in your own life and ask how your brand could solve them…even if the answer doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your brand.
  • Let them chart the course. The last five years have seen a startling shift toward consumer customization and it’s not just about a cola can with Jaqueline’s name on it. Online shopping has acclimatized the customer to almost always having their way. The size or shade they want for any item is far less likely to be out of stock in a massive fulfilment center than in the stockroom of a modest store.

The new models that are taking hold of the marketplace are increasing their revenue stream giving the customer more of what they want rather than just pushing what brands produce. Think of the active role in choice customers have with something like Netflix vs traditional broadcasting. The more customization you can offer, the better your chances of increasing your haul.

We’re all obsessed with chasing that same white whale. In today’s marketplace it’s important to make sure you’ve got your hooks into where the consumer is looking right now.

Need to make sure your success isn’t a fluke? Reach out to us and we can help fine-tuna marketing strategy based on today’s customer.

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