Is Digital Killing Retail?

Have you ever tried to buy a pair of shoes via the Footlocker website? According to Google retail guru Kiran Mani it takes (or once took, he wasn’t precise on the time frame) 17 clicks to order a pair shoes at the site, not including the in-putting of a 16-digit credit card number. That’s after a 20-plus second wait time for the site to load. 

Heck, as a New Yorker I could run over to one of their mid-town stores and buy a pair faster than that! 

The point Mani was making—at WPP’s 2018 Checkout conference--is that speed is one of the most important elements to a successful e-commerce practice. (Along with selection and a couple of other components). In today’s world that Footlocker experience is an eternity, particularly when compared to Amazon’s one-click process. 

“Speed is currency in today’s landscape,” Kiran noted, in an on-stage discussion with WPP's head of shopper marketing Carl Hartman. 



Somewhat surprisingly, the average website load speed for most American’s is 22 seconds. But for Amazon, the average is more like three seconds, Mani told the Checkout crowd. 

Amazon, he said, “is great for retail. They’re doing it well and setting the bar. They’ve taught the industry a lot.” 

Asked about the degree of concern regarding Amazon’s rapidly increasing share of search traffic vis-a-vis Google, Mani, replied, “sure we’re concerned.” That said, he added, competition benefits the consumer. 

In a separate presentation at the conference, which looks at the future of retail, shopping and technology. Kantar Consulting’s J. Walker Smith made the case that marketers and agencies need to figure out optimal ways of "advertising to algorithms," which consumers are increasingly relying on to do their shopping. 

Smith provided a number of interesting examples, noting consumer use of a growing number of smart gadgets and Internet of Things to make their purchases, like the smart washing machine that automatically reorders detergent. 

He also noted the growing “chelfie” phenomenon. A chelfie is a changing-room selfie, used by shoppers to decide which items to purchase in-store based on likes from their Instagram and other social media accounts. 

Consumers are bombarded with so many ads these days that they’re relying more and more on tools and technology to help with buying decisions and purchases Smith said. Thus future ad targets will increasing be those tools and tech rather than the consumer using them. 

The conference was chockful of insights. Try to score a ticket next year if you need to keep up on the shopper marketing and e-commerce worlds.


3 comments about "Is Digital Killing Retail?".
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  1. George Parker from Parker Consultants, February 12, 2018 at 9:50 a.m.

    "Agencies need to figure out optimal ways of "advertising to algorithms." Oh dear, what have we descended to? 

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 12, 2018 at 10:57 a.m.

    George, while they're at it  the agencies should also start thinking about how they will implement "blockchain advertising", to say nothing of "programmatic advertising". And let's not forget  about using "data" in advertising.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 13, 2018 at 9:27 a.m.

    A couple of comments. First of all, consumers may be "bombarded" with ads but, in fact they pay little or no attention to most of those aimed in their direction. We cover this subject in some depth in our latest annuals, "TV Dimensions 2018" for TV and "Intermedia Dimensions 2018" for all media. So this is not a good reason for an advertiser to go direct. A far better motive is to see if going direct via digital pays out relative to the costs of traditional distribution models---mainly using third parties---store chains, dealers, franchisees, etc.---- to bring the product to the consumer. As for Amazon, it seems to be expanding in all directions, including retail, but as yet it controls only 4-5% of all retail sales. Let's see what happens with Amazon's new initiatives before getting overly excited.

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