A new shopper's mentality, a new business approach

A new shopper’s mentality, a new business approach
It’s not just the physical store landscape that’s changing as a result of the shift from buying instore to online, but also the online channel itself is constantly evolving.

Traditionally, online sales in Europe have always taken place through the business’s own website. This applies to both the pure players and the traditional retailers that have started selling online. Whereas until two years ago the majority of online shoppers visited these webstores using a desktop or laptop, we’re currently seeing an explosive increase in the number of purchases via mobile devices, particularly smartphones.

The visits to online stores with devices that have a much smaller screen means the websites have to be adjusted accordingly. Because reading and browsing on a smartphone isn’t as easy, the role of the search function and of images and videos is becoming increasingly important.

Shopping apps, booming business
A second change is the emergence of shopping apps. These apps are usually single brand and fundamentally they look a lot like (mobile) webstores. Not everyone is willing to install these kinds of apps on their phone and the people who do are predominantly in the category “brand lovers”, i.e. fans of the store or the brand. Compared to webshops, these apps do offer a few advantages.

The app enables you to always be logged in, making (mobile) payments a lot easier. Moreover, the apps often contain information concerning loyalty points you’ve earned and (personalised) offers. Push notifications allow retailers to communicate directly with customers, for instance when they’re in the neighbourhood of a physical store.

Shopping platforms, the new retail giants
Then there is the rapid rise of shopping platforms, which is causing major changes on the online playing field. Companies like EBay and Booking.com are already established names, but many pure players have now also made the transformation from straightforward webstore to a platform where other suppliers can also sell their merchandise. Companies like Amazon, Zalando, Wehkamp and Bol.com already made this move a while ago.

This move is very understandable from a pure player’s perspective: on the one hand they are less dependent on their own inventory levels and, on the other hand, they earn commission on sales and fees for the use of payment systems. For retailers and brands, it’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce the product to new target groups.

Ecosystems, a business approach you can’t escape from
Zalando and especially Amazon are taking this even a step further. Their aim is to become both the starting point and ending point of all online customer journeys. Zalando does this by no longer presenting itself as an online store, but as a fashion platform where you can also buy clothing. Inspiration and support when looking for products is key in this concept.
In the US, Amazon is well on its way to achieving its goal and 60% of all product searches are now not starting with Google, but on the Amazon website. As part of this strategy, Amazon has been spending a long time creating customer loyalty. At first they did this through free shipments with Prime – for a fixed subscription fee all purchases are delivered free of charge, regardless of the size of the order.

Over the years, Amazon has expanded the benefits of the Prime membership considerably with free books via the Kindle e-reader and free movies and series through their streaming service. Amazon has also started creating its own unique content, the most notable being The Grand Tour: a car programme presented by the immensely popular trio from the former Top Gear.

The latest method Amazon is using to try to gain people’s loyalty is Amazon Echo: a device that, besides being a speaker, is also a voice-controlled search engine that can answer all your queries, ask your (smart) refrigerator what’s in stock and even order your favourite pizza for you. Everything to persuade consumers to enter Amazon’s own Ecosystem, instead of that of its competitor.

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