Seven characteristics of the modern consumer

Leaders from eBay, Chico’s and Brooks Brothers describe today’s shoppers

Alison Bolen, SAS Insights Editor

We all know that today’s consumer is more connected than ever before. But it’s still staggering when you think about it: This one, single device that we keep in our pockets can be used to review products, check prices, share purchases, request coupons – and sometimes even to purchase products from one retailer’s online channel while standing in a competitor’s store.

While mobile connectivity has empowered the consumer to shop in many different ways – it has also created opportunities for retailers. Namely, it opens the door for retailers to interact with customers more purposefully and to become more personalized in those interactions.

As smart retailers think about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, data and analytics remain at the center of their thoughts. But what, exactly, are they thinking?

At Retail’s Big Show in New York City, we brought together three leading technologists from the retail industry to help us describe and define today’s consumer – and how retailers are responding to this new consumer.

The seven characteristics they’ve identified are:

No matter where he is shopping, the consumer is the consumer. You have to break down those barriers between channels, empower the consumer in a uniform way and engage them in the same way on your site as you would in your store.

Sahal Laher, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Brooks Brothers

  1. Around-the-clock-shopping. “There’s an expectation among today’s consumers that the ability to consume is a 24/7 thing,” says Eric Singleton, Chico’s Chief Information Officer. “When consumption can take place at any time of the day, retailers have to address the nuances and the requirements of different consumer needs throughout day.” According to Singleton, the Internet of Things will compound this issue in the coming years. “Our challenge as a businesses is to address those expectations on every conceivable platform.
  2. Consumers are in control. “Customers in today’s era are much more in control of their shopping experience, and they know they can dictate the shopping experience that they want,” Gayatri Patel, eBay’s Director of Global Data infrastructure. “They have the means to explore, research and share every purchase decision. And they can do it in a very quick way. If you lose them, it may not be just for that purchase. It may be for a long time. You have to be responsive to their needs immediately instead of trying to direct them. That balancing act is the biggest challenge.”
  3. Omnichannel shopping. “The biggest trend we see right now is this blurring of lines across channels,” says Sahal Laher, Brooks Brothers Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “No matter where he is shopping, the consumer is the consumer. You have to break down those barriers between channels, empower the consumer in a uniform way and engage them in the same way on your site as you would in your store.”
  4. Content consumers. “Customers are branching out with this significantly broader ability to explore your products in the moment,” says Singleton. “They have closer relationships with what they’re buying and the reasons for buying it in their mind. Content has tremendous influence on how they’re behaving, so Chico’s is also looking at content to complement decisions in a more enriched way for customers, especially on social channels.”
  5. Global experience. “It’s a truly global economy,” says Laher. “We need to understand the customers’ needs wherever they are. Whether they’re in our NYC store or our Tokyo store, we need to arm associates with the tools that will make the customer interaction as meaningful as possible.”
  6. Collaborators. “There is a lot more collaboration and sharing of information that can influence consumer decisions compared to the offline experience,” says Patel. “eBay can complement those experiences with our retail partnerships.” Singleton agrees, saying “There’s definite use of devices to check out and share new products, to see if something complements your existing wardrobe or to validate what you saw on the Web.”
  7. Social sharers. “The relevance of social media on retail is untapped but growing very rapidly,” says Laher. “It goes beyond retail reviews of purchases. We are working with an outside partner to leverage social feedback before we even have products in the store. We can have various online groups give feedback on ideas and colors before investing time and money to create different colors and incur the costs of manufacturing and shipping, for example. That feedback mechanism didn’t exist before.”

Sound familiar? Do these characteristics describe you or your customers? If you want to know more about how our panel of retail technologists are using data and analytics to meet the needs of today’s consumer, come back next week and we’ll share some great tips and ideas.

Consumerism lifestyle -- a close up of a woman legs in heels holding a shopping bag

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