• January 24, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

The Ideal Shopping Experience

A new report from IBM Business Consulting Services shows a continuing shift in the demographics, attitudes, and patterns of customers' buying behaviors. The report also highlights the need for retailers to change the way they do business to succeed. IBM surveyed more than 1,600 U.S. shoppers via an online survey in October 2004 to gain further insight into how consumers' motivations for shopping effect their buying patterns. The survey includes questions designed to explore why they shop, the thinking processes behind choosing one store over another, and what constitutes the "ideal" shopping experience. One survey finding reveals that profound shifts in age, wealth, ethnicity, life-stage patterns, and value systems are making consumers harder to define, categorize, and reach. These demographic changes are leading to changes in the decision-making patterns of individual shoppers, which ultimately will necessitate retailers offering more tailored and relevant shopping experiences. "With the idea of 'mainstream' social norms and consumption patterns becoming increasingly difficult to define, retailers must delve deeper to understand the wants, needs, and purchase decision processes associated with the ever-increasing numbers of customer segments," says Joseph Gagnon, IBM Business Consulting Services global retail executive. "Retailers are not yet adequately addressing these new customers. The winners in the market will be those who can become truly customer-centric, flexibly delivering distinctive shopping experiences to meet the new needs of their customers." The survey focuses on the areas of consumer electronics, apparel, and groceries. When shopping in a consumer electronics store, 18 percent of respondents are shopping to browse new technologies, 16 percent are upgrading equipment or technology, and 15 percent are replacing a broken item. Survey results show that retailers must satisfy a consumer with a more diverse range of consumer needs, and find ways to steer customers to different "paths" through the store based on their particular needs that day. Training sales associates to take more consultative approaches to selling is also important. Within apparel retailers the survey examines the reasons to shop at a clothing store. Nearly one-third of shoppers, 30 percent, are replacing basic wardrobe items, while 11 percent are purchasing work-related clothing. All apparel shoppers surveyed also chose a store based on convenient location and the ability to get a good deal. Those shopping for work-related clothing want an efficient shopping experience. In contrast, shoppers looking for something new or different want customized products, want to summon sales help from the dressing room, and want to receive promotions at checkout. Retailers need to be more creative in designing store experiences that attract both convenience-oriented buyer of basic items and those shopping for social activity, survey results show. Related articles: Our FavoriteYear: CRM Projects to Drive Revenues in 2005
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