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Omnichannel ﹣ ever heard of it? If you exist in today’s retail atmosphere it’s our industry’s hottest buzzword. By definition, Omnichannel means creating a seamless and consistent retail experience across all channels, both online and offline.

Merging the digital and physical presence in retail may be top-of-mind for both retailers and brands, very few platforms have been able to make a true impact like ShopAdvisor has.

51c004poqsl-_ux250_Now, more than ever, consumers are purchasing from a channel different from which they entered. Shoppers may do their research online and ultimately purchase in-store. In an effort to create a seamless approach to better convert, agencies, brands, retailers, and publishers must leverage the relevant data and buyer trends across all channels.

ShopAdvisor is a platform that is doing just that. ShopAdvisor provides real-time, contextualized shopper, content, product and location data with deep data analytics, which power personalized shopping experiences to drive in-store purchases.

We got the chance to interview ShopAdvisor’s CEO, Jeff Papows, about forthcoming buyer trends and how mobile retail experiences are impacting in-store purchases.

What new type of product data wasn’t available before, that will become more important in the coming years?

That is a big question. Right now the biggest challenge is still knowing for sure whether or not a product is actually available at a specific location.  Having that available to consumers in real-time is a huge challenge that retailers, distributors and manufacturers still face. The disparate systems to manage inventory, point-of-sale and the supply chain down to the retail shelf require coordination and synchronization across multiple parties. We’re getting there, but it’s still a challenge. This is where IOT can play a major role in closing these gaps.  As it relates to the product data itself, I think that there are a couple of things.  First, there is the rich representation of data beyond the basics of what we’re dealing with today.  We think Augmented Reality helps to address that.  But there is also the contextualization of that data.  By this we mean in what context is the data being requested? This includes things like by who, from where, what time, what location and more. Integrating these capabilities into a mobile environment will enable the vision of having products from anywhere in the world at your fingertips.

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In terms of the future of retail, what are the pain points for either retailers or consumers that desperately need innovation?

Getting the shopper’s attention is so difficult now. In the era of mass media it was easy to reach everyone.  Now, we live in a world with thousands of options from which to receive information. The consumer controls from who they want to receive information and how. Furthermore, they are influenced by their peers.  These filters make it so much harder for brands and retailers to make an impactful connection with the consumer. This dynamic makes it imperative that brands and retailers connect with consumers on a one-to-one, contextualized basis. And given that for younger consumers their smartphones are the center of their worlds from which they receive and send information and connect with friends and the world at large, all innovation needs to center around this paradigm.

Read more: Augmented Reality and the Future of Omnichannel Retail

What are the main differences that you see between millennial shoppers and others?

In addition to their smartphones being so integral to the shopping process, millennials are quick to embrace other innovations. Things like quizzes, games and other activities that are integrated into shopping experiences have shown some traction.  We think that technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality will have a major impact in the coming years. Bottom line is that technology innovation is moving at an incredible pace now and millennial shoppers have shown a proclivity to readily embrace each advance.

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What does the role of social media play in shaping the buyer’s journey?

Well, statistics show that social media has a major impact on shopping trends, patterns and behaviors. The primary driver of retail transactions in 2016 was indeed social media, with 78% of consumers saying their purchase decision was influenced by social media. Furthermore, PWC revealed that nearly half of digital buyers said that reviews, comments and posts on social media influenced their shopping behavior, while 44% said receiving a promotional offer also influenced their buying journey.  In this day and age, brands and retailers must be tuned into social listening as an additional way to target and engage with their consumers.

For in-store shoppers, are there other ways that shoppers will use mobile touchpoints in-store?

That’s an interesting question. For all the talk about online and m-commerce growing substantially, which it is, more than 90% of all retail sales still take place in physical brick-and-mortar locations. Also, studies show that once the consumer is in the store that their basket sizes are on average 50% larger than if they were shopping online. That is a lot of money for the brands and retailers to capture. So the first objective is to provide the consumer with a contextually intelligent proximity marketing experience on their smartphone that will motivate them to go to the store. Once inside the store, that experience must continually adapt to the shoppers location in the store, presenting them with information, promotions and offers that are specifically adapted to them, including their gender, age, interests, history as a customer and more.

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