You Want to Follow the Shopper Into 2022? Here Are Four Paths
As 2021 passed the baton to 2022, we at WSL reflected on all the behaviors being passed along as well, and the directions these unfolding paths to purchase will take in 2022. Then we combed through our How America Shops® research and narrowed these paths down to four practices that we deem as Retail Safari® “Keepers.” And here they are.
How Well Are You Keeping Up with Your Shoppers?
We’ve been saying it for years: Follow the shopper if you want to have a future. Well, the door to 2022 is wide open and, based on a recap of our How America Shops® shopper surveys, it presents four very opportunistic paths. We call each of these our “Retail Safari® Keepers.”
A “keeper” is a retail practice that shows the promise of carrying on. Like Lorelei’s song, these practices are music to a weary shoppers’ ears, luring them into stores and websites for new reasons. But which of these reasons will make sense, long-term? In a year when the average number of channels increased to 12, from 8.7 in 2014, retailers must choose the approaches that make sense for them fast.
Here Are the “Keeper” Practices We’re Betting On:
Retail healthcare, or Medtail, that blends wellness pathsShoppers will continue to test and accept In-store wellness clinics, medical mall concepts and stores that have been completely retrofitted to house wellness facilities. The key to their success with shoppers is their accessibility: In 2021, 36% of shoppers told us they made unplanned health or wellness product purchases wherever they happened to be. If a “MedMall” or retail clinic existed on their physical path to purchase, they’d be more likely to consolidate all their wellness needs to that destination in one trip.
Curbside retail that cuts paths into the storeNearly six in 10 shoppers were using curbside pickup in 2021, and nearly half them did so every week! But here’s the opportunity: Up to 35% of those shoppers tended to venture into the same store for additional items. That means that of every 100 shoppers who used curbside pickup, 35 went into the store to buy something else. Retailers can examine their shopper data to detect these customers, learn which types of items are most frequently purchased in the store following a pickup, and create promotions and displays that anticipate these needs.
In-store experiences that change paths in a momentYes, shoppers want their retail experiences to be quick and easy and fast – until they don’t. Our 2021 data shows that most shoppers prefer stores for both longer stock-up trips and quick trip's. Cue up supermarket chain Hy-Vee, which is reinventing the customer experience with a DSW shoe selection that gives shoppers something to linger over if they choose, while ensuring staple items are in reach for those in a hurry. Another approach: The toy store Camp organizes its products by a child’s interest, not gender, so shoppers can still browse, but in less time.
Alliances that have power to pave inroadsPartnerships and strategic alliances can serve to reinvent those in-store shopping experiences – as long as they serve the dual purpose of meeting potentially unanticipated needs and are structured to keep the trip quick. Our Hy-Vee strategic alliance example, includes a digitally enabled DSW mini-store, accomplishes that. Others we’ve noted in our 2021 “Power of Two” Retail Safari® include Target’s redesigned Apple store and its on-site Ulta shops, and the Sephora boutiques inside Kohl’s. These innovative retail partnerships give shoppers more reasons to enter the store after a pickup, with access to merchandise that would otherwise require another stop.
One “Non-Keeper” Retailers Should Avoid
Services that can’t be implemented chainwide. Look, we know that structural changes in retail are expensive and can take a long time. But creeping them across the chain can cause brand confusion and mixed expectations. Better to start with the changes shoppers can see and appreciate across all stores at once, for a consistent retail experience. Good example: Victoria’s Secret quickly changed the photos in all its stores for an instant image rebranding. Photos of its former sexy angels were replaced with images of sexy women who look like its shoppers.
Alert retailers and brands know the shopper’s path in 2022 will have stops and starts; sometimes shoppers will be fast and other times, slow. Sometimes they’ll come into the store, other times they may not. But every one of those shoppers should be a keeper. So ask yourself: Do they feel the same way about you?
Do you need an expert’s ear on the direction you want your organization to head in 2022? WSL’s leaders and scouts are continuously talking to shoppers, retail executives and their suppliers to learn how shoppers make their choices, where and why. You can learn more on our Shopper Insights web page, or talk to us in person. Let’s chat.