The New New Media – changing face of retail

Published 16 April 2015

The retail sector has changed. The emergence of digital technologies has seen to that, more people are engaging with brands and more frequently than ever before. With more people engaging why do we continue to hear stories about the retail companies struggling to prosper?

THE FOUNDATION HAS CHANGED. If we consider that the foundation of the retail sector is historically linked to the element that has influenced you to purchase a product or service – the shop window, the stacked shelves, the market store, the garage forecourt, the street or underground poster, the newspaper advert, the printed catalogue – we can start to see why digital technologies are having such a dramatic impact on the retail sector.

The foundation is not the shop keeper, sales assistant, the market trader, the telesales or door-to-door sales person – they facilitate the transaction – it is the mechanism that engages the customer. The mechanism that reaches, engages and influences consumer interest and desire. The desire for a product or service, or to purchase from a specific retailer.

Digital technologies have changed the landscape, although the principle of the foundation has not changed, the channels have. The vehicles that engage us, influence us and drive us towards a transaction have changed. Online and increasingly mobile – are core mechanisms that deliver content to our eyes.

We go online, we rely on our mobile for almost every part of everyday life. Our research and discovery increasingly starts online. We are influenced by what we see and experience. There are so many potential touch points, getting a customer’s attention is challenging. We are bombarded with so much content.

Retailers are just part of the mix, competing for attention, vying for a share the potential customer’s limited time.  The challenge for retailers is adapting to a landscape that’s being changed by the ways in which consumers are shopping. Getting in front of potential customers is key, but also is using the limited opportunity to deliver an engaging experience. Creating the desire with a single click Point of Sale is the retailer’s goal.

LOCATION, TIME and MESSAGE are critical. The time to cut through and gain attention is extremely limited. Once engaged, the experience is even more critical. There are literally seconds to impress, influence and create a desire – or to lose a potential customer. The experience has to be great or the potential customer will likely walk away for good. The consumer is firmly now in control.

Meeting the increasingly changing demands of potential customers is essential. Retailers need to view the opportunity with a fresh pair of eyes, pushing traditional operating principles to these vehicles will not work. Retailers need to adapt and quickly.

The importance of mobile is increasing, the channel is set to become a primary environment for the majority. Gearing content and commercial capabilities for mobile is the key to the foundation of the retailer’s successes.

Martin Wilson at  Indigo102.