Survival of the Fittest! Retail Style!
by Bonnie Janzen

  • Path to Purchase, Online vs. In-Person
    As we have all heard, the death of retail has been predicted for years. It was the dominance of Walmart back in the day, and world domination of Amazon today! Both are very formidable forces in business and they have carved out an enduring place in the hearts and minds of consumers.

    How can you position your brand and your retail operation for success in a hypercompetitive and extremely fast-moving environment?

    Retailers face a myriad of challenges, including omnichannel, voice interface, mobile shopping, agile marketing, fast fashion (speed of getting any products to market) and how to best use technology to enhance every aspect of their business.

Working with our retail clients, we focus on strategies in these key areas:

  • 1
    Customer Experience: What delights your shoppers and your customers? What do you offer that is truly unique? What do you offer that customers can customize or make their own? What does your brand and retail experience promise? What can you deliver to shoppers that impacts as many senses as possible…sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch and will be relevant to their needs?
  • 2
    Product Experience: What are all the ways that the customer would like to interact with the product: in person, by watching a video, by reading reviews, or by seeing images? Can you provide a tech solution that makes it easier for customers to try out the products with less effort? How can they visualize the product in their home and as a part of their life, which might motivate them to buy the product right now?
  • 3
    Merchandising: What products and categories do you “own“? In which areas do you excel? How can you push the envelope to get new and interesting products to the market faster? How can you get consumer feedback sooner to improve decision-making for buyers and merchandisers? How can you make buying these products and categories easier or more fun for the shopper? You might want the packaging to drive the shopper to turn the label over and read the details/facts, but how do you replicate that in an online shopping experience? In the online or app environment, you might have other techniques to try to get the detailed information to the shopper (therefore, reviews could be much more important). How do online shoppers use chat or features to filter their search results?
  • 4
    Delivery Optimization: How can you deliver the product to the customer faster and in a more convenient way? Pick-up, delivery to store, delivery to home or office—where will the customer want the product and how can you anticipate that need? You should interact with the customer at the time and in the format they prefer—in-store, by voice with Alexa or Google, online via mobile app, or online via company website. How can you fulfill that need even before the customer has requested it from Alexa or Google or “put it on their shopping list”? In addition, if you are a new product or brand, how do you disrupt or break into the “reorder” where the shopper just refills a previous shopping list? If you are not on the “list” now, how do you generate significant trial among your target audience?
  • 5
    Customer Empowerment: What is the most helpful and useful way that the customer would like to interact with the retailer? It’s the shopper who makes the rules of their interactions with retailers, not vice versa. Is it via app, website, Alexa, Google, or other ways, or do they like a choice of multiple ways to access a retailer? Is there a way to anticipate that when the customer is searching online for specific products or events, that the marketing campaign would be perfectly timed to tell them about the products just as they recognize their need?
Final Thoughts

Identifying the best methodology to uncover the most meaningful consumer insights at every step of the customer journey is important. Customers know a great experience, an authentic brand, and an exceptional product when they see it. In-the-moment qualitative research can help you optimize the customer experience at every touchpoint. This can be enhanced with the combination of in-person shop-along interviews, shopping assignments and video diaries, as well as customer-journey research.

As the world of retail is ever-changing and fast-paced, so must our consumer insights techniques and solutions be! Based on the right consumer insights, retail will continue to evolve and succeed!

About the Author

Bonnie Janzen ( is Executive Vice President at Decision Analyst. She may be reached at 1-800-262-5974 or 1-817-640-6166.


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