For consumers, the very act of navigating to a website, locating and then buying a specific product is giving way to a world where (e)commerce is always just a click (or a point, tap, swipe) away.
Indeed, e-commerce is rapidly being joined by ‘m-’ and ‘t-’ commerce (via mobile, tablet and TV). Whatever the medium, consumers will use any and every available technology that helps them find and buy the right product, at the right price, in a manner they enjoy.
We looked at the all-pervasive SCREEN CULTURE in our 12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012. Now, for (r)etailers, everything from bus stops to TV programs can be an outlet, as consumers armed with smartphones or tablets embrace innovative new applications and technologies to shop wherever and whenever*.
* Note: That’s it in this Trend Briefing for m-commerce. Yes, the lines between mobile and online are getting more blurred by the day, especially for mobile-first consumers in emerging markets, but to keep this manageable, for us and you, we’ll save looking at all the m-commerce developments for another Trend Briefing!
QR code ‘shopping walls’ have popped up everywhere since Tesco Homeplus’ pilot in Korea. The company has now extended the initiative to 20 bus stops in Seoul, after becoming the number one shopping app in Korea with nearly one million downloads.
Other online brands deploying the stores include eBay in both London and New York, PayPal in Singapore, luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter, and online grocery store Ocado. Traditional retailers such as Toys"R"Us, Sears and Kmart, as well as manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble have also deployed the ‘stores’. With their winning combination of novelty, convenience and low set-up costs, shopping walls could be one retail innovation that runs and runs.
During New York’s Fashion Week, Glamour magazine partnered with L’Oreal to enable passengers riding in selected cabs to buy Lancôme products they saw featured on the in-cab TV screens.
eBay’s new iPad app includes ‘Watch With eBay’. Users enter the channel they are viewing to see relevant items available for purchase. For example, sports fans watching a game can buy memorabilia relevant to the teams on screen.
It’s not just offline that consumers are able to seamlessly buy almost everything they encounter (see our February/March 2012 Trend Briefing on POINT-KNOW-BUY). Online too, people can increasingly click, find, and then buy items they see in images or videos*.
* As with many new technologies, some publishers won’t be able to resist the temptation to blanket their photos and videos with intrusive ads. You shouldn’t need us to tell you to only embed subtle, helpful and most importantly welcome product links. And no, aggressive pop-ups will never become 'cool'.
IKEA have been using ThingLink technology to embed product links into the images on its Swedish blog, enabling customers to shop directly from the photos.
Stipple offers consumers the ability to discover, and then purchase objects in images.
Until POINT-KNOW-BUY technologies can be accurately deployed by people merely watching videos online, it’s up to brands to create ‘shoppable’ videos. Which is exactly what Gucci have done to promote its Spring/Summer 2012 collection.
ClickBerry offers a number of solutions to make videos interactive, by enabling publishers to add clickable areas to their videos.
While virtually all consumers are now online (or soon-to-be online), sometimes it makes sense for even the biggest online brands to branch out from their virtual roots and reach out to customers in the real world too. Because after all, as we observed in RETAIL RENAISSANCE, consumers will continue to crave 'real world' experiences for a long time to come.
In February 2012, industry blog Good E Reader reported that Amazon would launch a retail store in its hometown of Seattle, to showcase its branded physical products such as the Kindle.
Following its pop-up Chromebook store in London in October 2011, a planning application in January 2012 led to rumors that Google was planning to open a retail store in Dublin, Ireland.
Daily deal site Groupon launched interactive kiosks in Chicago in January 2012, enabling people to buy deals for local businesses direct from the machines.
Groupon competitor Living Social opened 918 F Street, a 28,000 square foot, six story building in Washington DC. The space is used to host the experiences that the site sells online, such as cooking, painting and yoga classes.
Threadless, the crowdsourced t-shirt site that became one of the web’s most successful retailers, launched a collaboration with GAP in February 2012. The partnership saw 25 t-shirt designs from the online brand available in selected GAP stores and online.
Personalized online accessory subscription service Stylistpick opened a pop-up store in London’s Westfield shopping center in February 2012, where fans could meet the celebrity curators behind their selections.
Just as consumers enjoy finding previously online-only brands offline, they also expect the offline to be accessible online. Now, while there’s obviously nothing new about brands selling online, these recent OFF TO ON innovations stand out:
Turnhills is a crowdsourced online photo directory of real store windows. Launched in December 2011, the site currently covers New York.
Google’s Catalogs tablet app brings real world catalogs online. The app features digital catalogs from brands such as Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Sephora and Williams-Sonoma. Users can search for products within and across catalogs, and either buy online or locate in-store products.
Japan based PanoPlaza launched in January 2012. The site creates virtual versions of bricks-and-mortar stores using 360-degree panoramic photos, complete with ‘hotspots’ where products are available for purchase. The technology has been used in Tokyo for a department store, a bookshop, and a sweet shop.
January 2012 also saw the launch of Plink, a loyalty program where participants are rewarded with Facebook Credits for shopping and dining offline. Participating establishments include Taco Bell, 7-Eleven and Dunkin’ Donuts, with over 25,000 locations available across the US.