How retailers can engage channel-hopping shoppers

Prajwal Chinta / August 2019

The proliferation of digital has given consumers in Singapore easy access to information at their fingertips. However, purchases across several categories are still largely conducted offline. This presents an opportunity for both traditional brick-and-mortar retailers as well as e-commerce players to delight existing customers and gain new ones.

Consumers today have the freedom to find any information they want, whenever they want it, thanks to the rapid growth in connectivity. Mobile has been an even bigger game changer, particularly in Singapore, which has a smartphone adoption rate of 91%, making it a primarily mobile-first market in a mobile-first region.

Online behavior inspires offline actions

Even though searches in Singapore occur online, people still make a majority of their purchases in-store. For instance, 94% of home furnishings are bought offline in Singapore,1 but 68% of them are influenced by digital touchpoints.2 Similarly, the sale of beauty and personal care products are made offline 91% of the time,3 but 75% of the sales are made after online consideration by buyers.4

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As technology becomes integrated into daily routines, consumers are adapting to more seamless methods of using it to obtain information in their moments of need. For example, voice search is growing in Singapore; 12% of all searches are voice-based, and 68% of smartphone users have adopted voice assistants.5

Users are interacting with technology in new ways

As shopper behavior continues to transcend the boundaries between online and offline, retailers are beginning to do the same. These transitions started with basic options like “click and collect,” where a shopper makes a purchase online but still has to visit a physical location to pick up their item.

However, retailers have come a long way since then. At the cutting edge are brick-and-mortar players who have begun to offer digital experiences in-store to satisfy consumers’ need for more information even at the point of purchase. Likewise, some far-sighted e-commerce giants are setting up a physical presence that goes beyond a traditional retail experience as they try to cater to users who prefer to touch and feel certain categories of products before purchasing them.

One of the ways retailers are doing this is through the use of augmented reality (AR). This is an area that has seen massive uptake in the last few years and is likely to continue to do so. Estimates suggest that the combined AR and VR market, which was worth $138B in 2018, is likely to hit the $180B mark by 2021 — and the APAC region will show the fastest growth globally.6

Retailers that have realized this are already capitalizing on it. For instance, beauty brand L’Oréal has begun incorporating ModiFace technology in-store so people can try different products using AR. Similarly, H&M Home launched a voice “stylist” that offers aesthetic suggestions as users shop.

These brands are responding to users’ need for more information. Here’s how you, too, can reach your customers and engage with them at every step of their journey.

1. Be present where your consumers are

Consumers’ search on digital is no longer limited to search engines. People are now getting their information from channels like online video as well. In fact, more than 50% of shoppers say online video has helped them decide which brand or product to buy.

It’s clear that consumers don’t limit themselves to a single channel, and therefore neither should you. Make sure to show up wherever your audience is likely to look for you — whether that’s Search and Maps when they look for “near me” terms, Google My Business for store hours, or YouTube for product tutorials.

2. Ensure your product is discoverable in any format

Mobile searches for the phrase “that looks like” have shot up over 60% in the past two years. But a new trend that’s slowly growing in popularity is that rather than typing, consumers can now simply take a picture of a product they like and get results of similar listings immediately with technology like Google Lens.

This presents an opportunity for retailers to make sure their products show up for matching search results by including relevant visuals and search terms on their website.

3. Provide information and assistance in the moment

Research shows that 1 in 3 smartphone users make a purchase from a brand other than the one they were searching for online because of the information the new brand provided in the moment they needed it.7 And this behavior could take place offline as well: a consumer could be engaging with another brand by comparing products digitally while standing in your physical store, leading to a missed opportunity.

To reach consumers in the exact moment when they are searching for information, explore online shopping ads to make sure users not only find your product but also have the opportunity to make a purchase immediately and with as much ease as possible.

Consumer behavior is constantly changing, but for brands that can act quickly and decisively to meet the consumers both online and offline at the exact moment when they are looking for information or attention, this presents more of an opportunity than a challenge.

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