Winning the business of online shopping

Bravery gap series, part 3

How can retailers increase sales through digital content and gamification?

By Jennifer Lee

“Don’t compete to stand still, compete to win!” said John Tory, Corporate Director, to Canadian retailers at Deloitte Canada's 9th annual Retail Outlook Industry event, Modernizing Retail. Our invitation-only event was held in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre on February 27, 2013, with many prominent retailers in attendance and also guest presenter from Google Canada.

After John’s inspiring call to action, emerging retail trends were presented by Brent Houlden, National Retail Leader, and myself. These emerging trends included case studies from the leading-edge gaming and toy industries.

Disrupt the “showrooming” pattern

The event showcased some innovative ways retailers can use to attract consumers – online and offline. A 2012 Deloitte retail report found that 70% of consumers with mobile devices are actively researching products on-the-go. People visit stores to compare prices but then decide to purchase a cheaper product from a competitor online. Known as “showrooming,” retailers need to disrupt this pattern of behaviour to encourage consumers to make a purchase. They can do so by embracing digital content and streamlining delivery to bring consistency, convenience and value.

Digitally-enhanced shopping is another trend helping to create a seamless shopping experience. “This is where retailers are using technologies such as touch screens, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and vanity mirrors to help sell products to consumers,” explained Brent. “We are seeing retailers investing heavily in digital signage displays, an increase in technology to make product selections and perform transactions, and finally, gamification.”

Engage through gamification

More and more brands are using games to engage with customers on their website or through popular social networks. The goal is to keep consumers coming back to the brand. We must seize the opportunity to learn from the gaming industry players because they know how to engage people and gather consumer feedback in an indirect way. Retailers who master profiling through gamification benefit from insights into their target market, online audience and factors that influence purchasing decisions.

Knowing more about your potential customers also gives retailers the ability to personalize the shopping experience for individual consumers. As retailers invest dollars into data, they want to meet the consumer demand for products right at the time when the customers want them. Google Canada’s Retail and Technology Practice Lead, Chris Hodgson, showed how using Google Search could help retailers reach their customers at exactly the moment they wanted their products.

“Pre-emptively” sell your products 

But that may not be enough. Brent and I emphasized that retailers need to be “pre-emptive” in the sale of their products, as it proves critical for them to reach consumers when they first want the product. Retailers can no longer wait for consumers to enter their stores and risk losing them to competitors.

In our report, we found a significant reduction in foot traffic to retail locations. However, there were higher sales when people arrived at the store after doing the bulk of their research online. Without question, the role of the store has changed; it is now a destination experience. Companies are now spending more money renovating flagship stores and phasing out others based on demographics and data analysis.

And finally, when potential customers get to a store, they are more hesitant than ever when asked for their contact information. Called a value exchange, retailers are encouraged to find more innovative ways than just loyalty programs to thank their customers for the information they receive in return. This is why gamification and engaging digital content for retailers and brands have become so popular – it’s an indirect and enjoyable experience – transforming how brands interact with their potential customers.

Retailers need to take action based on these future trends and “compete to win” in the Canadian marketplace – especially as more and more digitally-savvy consumers are actively researching products on-the-go.

What can the retail industry learn from leading-edge gaming and toy industries?

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Jennifer Lee is a senior manager with the Financial advisory  group. She specializes in business restructuring and performance enhancement.

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