Getting the retail edge online

In this strategy magazine exclusive, Delvinia CEO Adam Froman breaks down the results of the agency's most recent 'Dig' report on shopper experiences.

‘If retailers are not breaking up their customer base and understanding them by digital behaviour, they’re really missing an opportunity,’ says Adam Froman, CEO, Delvinia.

The Toronto-based digital strategy and customer experience firm released its quarterly Delvinia Dig report, ‘The Social Shopper: A Lens into the Future of Retail Experiences,’ today and it contains some noteworthy insights for retailers looking to strengthen their online programs.

The most surprising finding, Froman says, was that although 61% of Canadian shoppers say they research products online before making purchase decisions at least half of the time, category makes a big difference.

For instance, while home electronics buyers are five times more likely to choose the internet over the store environment when gathering pre-purchase information, apparel shoppers are 68% more likely to do their research in-store.

Intuitively, this makes sense – most shoppers want to touch the fabric and try the garment on – but the preference extends to other categories, too, with CPG consumers also more likely to gather information in store.

The study also found that 65% of Canadian shoppers look for consumer reviews and recommendations while researching online. And there’s good reason for retailers and brands to let customers post reviews (including the negative ones) on their sites, Froman says.

‘They’re going to do it anyway,’ he says. ‘If they do it in an environment where you have some involvement, at least you can respond and deal with it…Giving up that control actually gives you more control in the relationship.’

The hunt for online reviews isn’t just happening on consumers’ laptops. Delvinia found that nearly 20% of Canadian smartphone owners use their phone to search for recommendations while they’re out shopping – a number that rises to 40% when they’re iPhone users. And one-third have used their phone to take a picture of a product in store, which Froman points out is an important reason to ditch dated no-photography rules.

Delvinia’s proprietary segmentation model, Digital Mosaic, breaks down the Canadian population based on individuals’ attitudes towards and usage of digital technology, resulting in three major groups: the time-starved, for whom technology’s primary purpose is to help manage their hectic lives; the heavy social users, for whom tech is also a lifeline to friends and family; and laggards, including late-adopters and those who don’t own or embrace technology.

As retail competition grows, Froman says it’ll be increasingly important for retailers to understand their customers’ digital usage. ‘They really should be putting on that lens, because that’s going to give them the insight on how to compete,’ he says.