Inspired by our clients gearing up to Christmas, the Leapfrogg Customer Insight team recently conducted a survey into the shopping habits of premium retail shoppers.
Below we report back on the key findings and recommendations for retailers operating in this space.
Questioned via an online survey, the most interesting finding concerned the use of mobile. Our survey found that 47% of consumers purchasing premium and luxury products access retail apps to research and buy items, seemingly integrating mobile into their personal multi-channel experiences.
We found that those making purchases via mobile, purchased frequently, buying smaller ticket items with low emotional and time investment: music, entertainment, fast fashion and groceries, for example.
Mobile’s role within multichannel seems to becoming increasingly sophisticated as the more affluent users become more confident with their devices. Statistics that back up our own experience from Google imply that 65% of smartphone users claim mobile engagement also drives footfall to in-store purchase.
Our findings give retailers who haven’t started planning their mobile strategies for 2012 some interesting quick-win clues to engaging quickly with a committed and purchasing mobile audience. As such, our advice would be…
- Make sure your site is optimised for mobile – the first step towards encouraging sales from the smartphone savvy consumer
- Merchandising strategically – encouraging repeat purchases of low perceived value items with a high profit margin is key delivering ROI
- Be clever about the time of day – our clients have seen mobile-based searches and sales for products at traditionally bizarre times. For example, we’ve seen bigger ticket items like beds or mattresses, with usually long and multi-attributed sales processes, being bought first thing in the morning from a mobile device – potentially in a fit of frustrated pique after another dreadful night’s sleep! Question how well you know your target audience so you can target them when they are “in the moment”.
The internet’s influence on multichannel
We wanted to discover how consumers buying high-end products use the internet during their purchase journey. When asked how they ranked different types of activity to help buy products, there was a clear winner for our respondents; using the internet to research products and brands to be inspired or to help with ideas was the most popular use of the internet for premium shoppers within the multichannel buying cycle.
Ranked below, in order of popularity, are the other ways in which premium retail shoppers use the internet to help them shop:
1. Checking and comparing prices before completing purchases online
2. Researching online to ‘short-list’ products before going in-store to actually buy
3. Despite the explosion of coupon and offer sites this year, using the internet to find discount vouchers was only the fourth most popular use of the internet within the buying cycle
4. The preference to go in-store to ‘touch and feel’ a product before going home to purchase was the least popular internet role within the buying cycle
Interestingly, it would appear those purchasing premium and luxury products are not highly price-driven. The use of vouchers is not as prevalent as one might expect in the current climate, although it would be fair to say that luxury brands in particular are less active in discounting their products.
Whilst it would appear that respondents are likely to research products online before going into store, the behaviour is not so prevalent the other way around.
Our take out from this part of the insight was that strategic use of search marketing, online PR and social media will ensure visibility for brand and non-brand searches to drive engagement and aid the research phase of the buying journey. However, mobile outreach can meet a more functional need: helping your customers buy quickly when they know what they want, when they want it and helping them find your stores when out and about. Making sure online and mobile tactics join the dots with your offline and in-store activity is vital to ensuring a seamless multichannel experience – the days of viewing your online store in a silo are well and truly over.
Future proofing your sales
We also found that the majority of our respondents (nearly two thirds) did between 50 – 75% of their shopping online – with 4.5% claiming that they do all of their shopping online! Exciting stats for us digital geeks!
Almost two-thirds of our respondents claimed that 90% of the shopping they did online was for non-food items. 8% of respondents claimed that they shop for all non-food items online. This is a hugely positive vote of confidence for premium retailers in the middle of one of the most important retail periods of the year and as we enter, what is expected to be, a tough 2012.
The most popular non-food, premium purchases online were shown to be:
- Travel and holiday accommodation
- Gifts for others
- Clothing and fashion
- Shoes and accessories
For retailers, the interesting take out from this part of the research is not to lose focus on the products you’re actually selling. With a digital industry awash with technological advances, keeping your actual products front of mind can sometimes be a challenge when you have an excited digital marketing team keen to experiment with tactics.
If our research has shown that gifts are the second most popular premium purchase online, then how can learn from this and merchandise or promote your products for this need? Can you offer gift wrapping services and offer to deliver to the gift recipient?
With 2012 just around the corner, are there ways in which you can use this insight to ‘de-seasonalise products’ and future-proof potentially difficult times ahead?
Retailers: the good, the bad and the ugly…
We also asked respondents which premium retailers are doing online well and why others do it badly. Unsurprisingly and unprompted, John Lewis, ASOS, Amazon, Net-a-porter and Not on the high street were all given positive mentions, with praise for “easy navigation”, “clear photography”, “excellent information about the products” and importantly for products bought online that “items arrive when they say they will” and “they offer free delivery”.
When asked to describe why some online retailers are still doing it badly, unprompted responses included:
- “poor product display”
- “confusing layout”
- “looks untrustworthy”
- “really bad on and offline experience – no link up between the two”
- “checkout process was painful”
We’ll refrain from naming specific brands but needless to say a number of recognisable retailers are failing in delivering a rich, intuitive experience for visitors to their websites. How does your site compare against the comments above?
In conclusion, taking that step back and understanding what your customer wants from the shopping experience you offer not only enables you to focus on what is genuinely going to make a difference to your online sales but really tailors the experience to a target audience and delivers online strategies that align with offline and in-store marketing activity.
Research conducted via online questionnaire in October 2011
112 premium retailer shoppers completed the survey