New Consumer Survey Highlights In Store Shopping Expectations
Rich: Today on Thinking Caps, we're going to be looking at lots of new consumer behavior data that's just been released, and asking, can e- commerce consumers help retailers prep for a return to normalcy post- COVID? Stay tuned.
Tim: Well, Rich, I'm excited to dig into this one. This will be my last Thinking Caps from the road on vacation. I'm in Iowa in the forest, but let's dig in. There's been a massive digital acceleration as we know it across this pandemic, right? We can't ignore that. And many retailers, such as Old Navy, who's quoted in the article about the cover, they had to shut stores and they had to quickly pivot to things like e- commerce, curbside pickup, et cetera. But what's going to happen as we return to normality? You got thoughts?
Rich: Yeah. Well, we, and quite a few others in the industry, it seems, now believe that online retailers and direct- to- consumer brands will have to personalize and humanize their online shopping experiences to capture customer loyalty. In fact, the E- commerce Consumer Behavior report that's just been released from nine Shopify partners found that 52% of consumers think their shopping habits will change once COVID-19 is no longer a factor, and they'll return to physical stores.
Tim: Well, Rich, I think that's a great thing, right? Everybody wants a little bit more of their normal lifestyle, and we have some stats here from this report that I have some notes I'm going to read," Of those consumers who plan to shop less for clothing online, one- third say it's because they enjoy the experience of shopping in physical stores." Now that's about 36% that, and this is all according to the Cotton Incorporated's Coronavirus Response Consumer Survey. I have some other stats here." Consumers also say they'll shop online less because they enjoy shopping with family or friends." And who doesn't? I love shopping for shirts with you, Rich, so I can't wait for that to come back. 33% said that's a factor." Shopping in person is more convenient," was another factor, with 33%." They often need to return clothes that they purchase online." 32% said that that was a factor in why they want to get back into the stores." And people said they actually liked the customer service they receive when shopping for clothes in store." 31% said that. And that makes total sense, right? That's the human connection. That's humanizing that transaction, the experience of shopping online and finding the right thing for you as an individual, so I think that's important stuff.
Rich: No. Just remember this. We don't believe yet that the industry, from an e- commerce perspective, has yet really truly been able to humanize the online experience. That's not just retail. It's many different brands. There's a long way for us as an industry to go. We've had massive digital acceleration. The next steps are all going to be about how we humanize and personalize the online experience. The problem is the Delta variance is obviously raging in a number of different markets, so that may well push back some of the ability of consumers to shop in stores, which is unfortunate.
Tim: Yeah, you know, that's true. And look, that may push consumers to shop online longer. But if you were able to pivot to any kind of e- com, regardless of your industry, as you mentioned, you need to be ready for anything. So, whether the Delta variant becomes a catalyst to keep online shopping, or if things are really, truly returning to normal, you need to get your stores prepped, get those shelves dusted off, get your staff restaffed up. So, you got to be ready for anything.
Rich: Yeah, and that means that web stores need to put in the hard work of learning more about their customers. Two- thirds of consumers, 66%, say they wish that apparel brands, fashion brands, and retailers knew more about them and what they like when they shop, according to the 2020 Cotton Incorporated's Lifestyle Monitor Survey. And nearly half of all consumers, 46%, say they would like apparel brands to use information from their purchase history to personalize their shopping experience and give them recommendations on what to buy.
Tim: Yeah. Well, look, the report also has some information I wanted to share here. They say," Shoppers are also heavily influenced by the recommendations they receive from peers." About 84% said that that's true. And they also added that," Affiliate influencer and loyalty programs are beneficial to drive more authentic recommendations from a customer- to- customer point of view." And I actually have a quote here from... This is Allie Berg, a partner manager at Shopify Plus, and she says," Having a delightful experience with the brand with high- quality products that customers love so much they want to tell their friends, combined with a strong SEO strategy and site speed, is key for 2021 and beyond. The iOS 14 update on privacy settings," which we've covered a ton," will have an inevitable impact on ad targeting, with many industry experts thinking it could take an immediate toll on performance marketing and drive up paid ad costs."
Rich: Well, I tell you, it's great to see others like Shopify recognizing the link between privacy disruption and the role of loyalty programs in building human connections in a digitally accelerating world. Something that we've been talking about quite a lot, and something we're going to be talking about even more over the coming months.
Tim: Yeah, and we're hearing that loud and clear from our customers as well. I mean, they're constantly looking at loyalty programs, rebooting them, kicking them up. But I do have a few other stats I wanted to share here from this report," More than three- quarters of consumers say that they don't like companies tracking them online, according to the monitor research." And you know, we've seen that before in our own consumer trends index earlier this year, and that was about 76% said that." But," however," they want stores to have a better idea of what they'd like to purchase." Makes sense." Consumers also seem to have a lot of clothes shopping in mind in the days ahead. Even though about half," 49% actually," purchased clothes online during the past year, 41% plan to continue doing so in the future," according to the Coronavirus Response Survey that we mentioned. Also," About one- fifth, 21%, plan to shop for clothes online a few times per month, while 17% plan to do so a few times per week." My wife is definitely in that category, Rich. And then lastly," 45% expect to spend more on clothing in the upcoming year." And I'll put myself in that bucket as well. I definitely am going to be buying more clothing.
Rich: Well, no, I mean, I would definitely like better recommendations of what to buy, based on a better understanding of who I am. I mean, I don't just buy hats, Tim, you know?
Rich: Well, I've probably got a lot of hats, so it's not they got that wrong. But anyhow, to keep the connection strong with customers, the E- commerce Consumer Behavior report from these Shopify partners points brands towards a mode of communication that might seem old school to some, but definitely not to us, and that's email communication, right? It's the most preferred method of connecting to consumers based on the consumer research, at 53%. And again, we've seen that through our own bespoke research, and we've done an e- consultancy. Email is the strongest channel to connect with your consumers. So, it's not old school. It's what you need to drive the revenue that's going to power your e- commerce program. Now, further, I think this is really important, because we all know the importance of emails and channel, but further, customers are willing to share zero party data if it means getting personalized offers and recommendations. Again, something that we've seen from our own research. And zero policy data describes personal information that a customer intentionally shares with a brand, including preferences, shopping habits, and other personal contact information details, as we've talked about before on this podcast.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely, look, and e- commerce just as a channel and those interactions that happen on the e- comm platforms, they collect data from consumers in a deeply personalized way, especially if you're... have a zero party data strategy, not just a transactional strategy of data collection. And this will help both your online and your physical retail experiences for those consumers. It'll also fight off your competition, because there's a lot of competition for consumer attention. And if you've got a zero party strategy and you know your customers, you're creating that humanized connection and building that relationship, you're going to have a competitive advantage. So, you have to go there. You have to be there today.
Rich: Now, fortunately, we have helped, at Cheetah Digital, helped marketers understand what kind of capabilities they need to rehumanize and personalize the online shopping experience. And so, we created this report, The Top RFP Questions to Ask Your MarTech Vendors, and it covers all the things that you need from zero party data to personalization through to loyalty, all these things that you need to personalize and humanize the shopping experience. So, link below, take a look at it.
Human connections! That's the core message consumers are sending when it comes to retail experiences right now. The Ecommerce Consumer Behavior Report, published by 9 Shopify partners, sheds light on the reasons why consumers want to be back in store. But will the Delta variant delay those wishes? We dig into this topic and share what you need to know in less than 10 minutes.