Presented by: Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst, e-business and channel strategy, Forrester Research
Kodali studies retailers and brands in the rapidly evolving retail landscape. She offered proprietary Forrester Research data and insight about digital business strategy, omni-channel retailing and consumer trends. She outlined technologies that affect online commerce and suppliers.
Customer Journeys Blend Digital and Physical Stores
Forrester has studied the customer journey with digital and physical stores for home goods categories, including small appliances and furniture to show the remarkable growth of ecommerce over the recent five years and expects sharp increases in the coming years.
In looking at a shopper’s journey, in both bricks & mortar and online, research shows that shoppers consider price first, followed by free shipping, in-stocks and the influence of family and friends. When shopping for small appliances and home décor, consumers search for products online first and then often seek out stores to see the items in person.
Direct-to-Consumer Sales Grow
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales are increasingly important for brands to speak directly to their customers. Brands likely to have strong DTC sales are those that provide excellent product descriptions enhanced by attractive photos and videos that show the product in use and physical context. Replenishments for product supplies are often purchased online. Consumers also want to know the delivery date and real time inventory tracking and they value reviews. Brands need strong marketing strategies and logistics management, propelled by social media. Unique products that tap into consumers’ emotions offer the best opportunities.
Kodali summarized findings for online shopping by type of store, pointing out specific brands and their successes that resulted from engaging with fans of the products via social media. She commented on different shopping behaviors and preferences of men and women.
Digital Marketing Guidance for Brands
She urged manufacturers to enhance their online brand presence and capitalize on their exclusivity. Communicate frequently with customers to alert them of delays and respond quickly to their comments.
She provided key insights about the practices of major online marketplaces and offered suggestions to CHESS participants for how to protect their brands against counterfeiting and unauthorized resellers. While DTC has been transformational, she suggested that companies investigate B2B opportunities as well.
As did other speakers on the CHESS program, she noted that innovating in distribution to control costs while enlarging reach can assure growth and cultivate brand loyalty. She offered suggestions for strategies and tactics for defensive and offensive practices to protect and grow the brand. Find trustworthy partners and invest in monitoring supply chain. Direct-to-consumer sales and all digital channels are essential for preserving brand equity.