The New Digital Role in Shopping

by , Sep 19, 2012, 6:15 AM
  • Comment (1)
  • Recommend (1)
Subscribe to Research Brief

According to a new study by Ryan Partnership, branded shopping apps are the strongest driver behind unplanned purchases. Branded content on social networks drives people to try new products, and texts and social media are most likely to influence where people shop.

The study finds that consumer usage of digital tools to support shopping has grown tremendously in just 18 months. In 2010, usage of digital shopper tools was more limited to early adopters, while in 2012 the vast majority of shoppers have woven them into multiple points throughout their path to purchase. The RetailNet Group projects that this shift from analog to digitally-influenced shopping will continue for the foreseeable future.

Projected Influence of Digital Tools on Shopping Trips

Influence

2011

2016

Analog

54%

36%

Digitally influenced

38

53

Source: RetailNet Group, September 2012

“Digital retail,” in the study, is defined as the use of digital communications to engage shoppers along the path-to-purchase and drive incremental sales. Any marketing-related digital interaction that the shopper has in-store would be considered part of the digital retail universe.”

Shoppers' usage of digital retail tools, ranging from store websites and mobile coupons to daily deal sites and QR codes, has doubled or even tripled, depending on the tool, in the previous 18-month period. 96% of the survey respondents said they have used at least one digital shopping tool, with the majority using multiple tools. 

The five most heavily used tools were:

  • Store websites (64% of respondents)
  • Downloadable coupons (61%)
  • Search engines (51%)
  • Retailer emails (53%)
  • Brand websites (49%)

Additional tools mentioned include daily deal sites, brand social media, mobile coupons and shopping apps.

Digital Tools Used When Shopping Or Planning To Shop (% of Respondents)

Digital Tool

2012

2010

Store websites

64%

28%

Downloadable coupons

61

28

Search engines

59

 

Retailer Emails

53

25

Brand sites

49

 

Brand emails

47

 

Daily deal sites

37

 

Reviews/recommendations

36

12

Load to card coupons

28

10

Brand social media

26

12

Retail social media

23

 

Mobile coupons

18

5

Retailer texts

16

5

Shopping apps

14

 

QR codes

8

 

Source: RyanPartnership, September 2012

Kim Finnerty, VP, Consumer and Shopper Insights at Ryan, says "... usage of digital tools during the planning phase of shopping is... virtually ubiquitous..."

The survey of 8,000 primary household shoppers about their usage of various digital retail tools found that shoppers use different tools for different purposes, and which tools impact which behaviors.

  • Social Media from retailers is the strongest driver of new brand and product trial. Brands launching new products should feature their new offerings not only in their own social media efforts, but in their retailers' as well.
  • Shopping Apps and retailer tools are strongest drivers of unplanned purchasing.  It is important for the Brand to be a part of the retailer's digital tools as their traditional tools, opines the report.
  • Texts Messages from Retailers and Brands are most likely to influence choice of where to shop.

Tool Impact on Product Trial (% of Respondents Who Bought Products/Brands Never Before Purchased)

Influence Tool

% Bought

QR codes/bar code readers

22%

Shopping apps

32

Retailer texts

21

Mobile coupons

19

Retailer social media

36

Brand social media

32

Load-to-card coupons

20

Reviews/recommendations

29

Daily deal sites

26

Brand emails

26

In-store brand sites

25

Pre-shop brand sites

29

Brand sites

19

Retailer emails

21

Search engines

16

Downloadable coupons

18

In-store retailer sites

15

Pre-shop retailer sites

17

Retailer sites

15

Source: RyanPartnership, September 2012

The study points to shopping apps and social media updates as the tools best poised for near-term growth, because they deliver the strongest combination of shopper utility (such measures as "makes shopping more fun," and "makes me feel like a smart shopper"), and behavioral impact ("I make more unplanned purchases," "I try products or brands I never bought before," "I spend more than I planned").

The impact of digital shopper experiences on the selection of a retailer was quite strong.  Interestingly, retailers’ own social media updates were the strongest driver of a shopper’s selection of a retailer. Although quantifiable ROI data can be challenging to come by, retailers’ recent efforts to scale up their social media following seem to be bearing fruit, notes the report.

Most Important Tools Influencing Retailer Choice

Tool

% of Respondents

Retailer social media

44%

Product reviews/recommendations

42

Pre-shop brand sites

42

Shopping apps

40

Pre-shop retailer sites

37

Retailer emails

37

Brand social media

36

Brand emails

34

Source: RyanPartnership, September 2012

Finnerty concludes that "... two years ago, early adopters were the only consumer segment using shopping apps and following retailers' updates on social media... Now, the vast majority of consumers are weaving these digital tools into their path to purchase,..".

For more information from the Ryan Partnership, or for access to the PPT report,  please visit here.

 

 

 

1 comment on "The New Digital Role in Shopping".

  1. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct
    commented on: September 19, 2012 at 10:58 a.m.
    This study seems to fall into the primary research error identified in the Joel Rubison blog post discussed in my look at showrooming. From what I can see, it confuses "ever done this" with "always do this" - and there's a huge difference. http://dsgarnett.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/lets-hold-the-panic-about-retail-showrooming/

Leave a Comment

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Recent Research Brief Articles

» Research Brief Archives