Called the “Target Awesome Shop,” Target’s new e-commerce storefront is powered by Pinterest. Refreshed daily, it’s an amalgamation of pins from Target’s own online store and users on the social networks, showcasing user’s favorite pieces and driving engagement. The idea is to create a curated experience with data from trending products that combines analytics and data from social networks, as well as the Target site itself, to create a best of both world scenario. It’s worth keeping an eye on, particularly to see whether the social network, for all of its plaudits, can actually increase sales figures.
Last week, I took a nine-day road trip covering the west coast from San Diego to Seattle, a journey that shook up my everyday routine.
Beyond the gorgeous views and even more beautiful spring weather, while popping into a boutique on the trip, I was surprised to realize that it was the first physical store I’ve entered in quite some time (other than my local grocer).
I don’t believe I’m alone. Traditional shopping centers are on the midst of a tremendous decline. Andreesen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan recently pointed out that “10% of the roughly 1,000 large malls in the US will fail within the next 10 years.” For a bit of fun, check out the Dead Malls blog, which beautifully epitomizes this trend.
But this change isn’t happening in a vacuum. I’ve given some thought to what’s driving this shift, and I believe it boils down to four simple elements:
1. PRICE: Things Cost Less
This is a no-brainer. The web enables a state of near-perfect information, so if a better price is to be had, it’s easy to find. Sites like Amazon and ShopStyle have been leading this shift for a while, though new services like Lyst allow shoppers to track the price fluctuations of individual items across retailers.
2. SELECTION: Online Inventory Is (Relatively) Endless
Heading into a store, I frequently find that I’m not able to find a particular item — especially given the way “fast fashion” brands like H&M and Zara stock their shelves, with new products every week. I also happen to be a fairly average-sized female, so even when the merchandise is in-stock, it’s often the case that my size has been sold out. Shopping online gives me the best chance to find what I’m looking for — or to be surprised by something new.
3. PRECISION: There’s Little Opportunity for Miscommunication
Call me crazy, but nothing is more stressful for a Millennial like myself than needing to speak to a fallible human when a straightforward transaction could better be conducted by a machine. Ordering food is a great example of this scenario. Sites like Seamless, GrubHub and Delivery.com ensure the specifics of my order are clearly communicated to the restaurant and, as an added bonus, eliminate the need for cash.
4. CONVENIENCE: The Web Never Closes
In today’s connected world, we never really stop working, which can make it difficult to find the time to shop in “real life.” We rush home from the office to avoid eating dinner at 10 pm and run from errand to errand on the weekends, hardly leaving the time to relax — let alone leisurely browse the racks at a favorite retailer. Shopping online lets us use the short snippets of free time we do have to make a few purchases without the hassle of leaving the office or the sofa.
So how can brick-and-mortar stores compete?
Smart retailers will use new technology to bring the benefits of online shopping into the physical experience.
• PRICE: Make prices more competitive by delivering real-time offers through geolocated Passbook offers, Shopkick rewards or push notifications for loyal customers through detection of their mobile devices in-store.
• SELECTION: Extend inventory by allowing shoppers to use their smartphones to tap or scan a sample product to purchase a variety of other sizes and styles and have it delivered the next day (at no additional cost, of course!)
• PRECISION: Email receipts to customers for an easy-to-access record of their purchase, as well as simplicity in the case of product returns. (As an added bonus, apps like OneReceipt can scrape your email and conveniently gather your receipts in a single location.)
• CONVENIENCE: Create 24/7 shopping experiences outside the traditional store, whether on the windows of a shop, within out-of-home advertising Tesco-style, or in accessible pop-up locations.
Until then, good luck finding me at the mall.
Clothia Lets Users Take Their Closets Online
As reported this week in Forbes.com, IPG Media Lab along with our parent company, Mediabrands is joining forces with AOL to create the next generation of retail shopping tools. Our hope is to make it easier for shoppers to get the information they need to make smart choices while harnessing the best of traditional retail advertising with the latest in online and social media technology.
We want not only to build a better, smarter experience for consumer, but a more effective advertising vehicle for retailers themselves. With average circulation of larger newspapers on the decline (down nearly 8.7% according to an Audit Bureau of Circulations study) the media has spent much time wringing its hands over the future of print. What we donâ€™t talk about is what that might mean for retail advertisers. Retailers have spent billions of dollars over the years teaching shoppers to look in the Sunday newspaper for the latest news about whatâ€™s on sale in their city. Retailers have relied on print because it has a focused immediacy that online canâ€™t provide; it promotes timely sales, serves as a metaphor for the retail season and even educates sales people. Television, radio, and even banner ads have never been able to make up the difference from a low-tech free standing insert or full page ad in the daily and Sunday papers. As a result, for decades, very little has changed in the regular weekly newspaper insert, or the coupon mailers that go to American homes each week. Continue reading “Meet the next generation of retail shopping”