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Guest comment: How can retailers best meet the needs of today’s savvy shopper in 2011?

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by Simon Bird

During 2010 a considerable number of market players have embraced online as the channel in order to reach their key customer base. The challenge now is for them to keep this momentum going in order to meet the demands of a new type of online shopper, one who is smart and savvy and never buys anything without getting a discount.

Group Buying

A number of trends emerged throughout 2010. Most noticeable is the rise in consumer collectivism and group buying. Some online retailers have already adapted to the opportunities and challenges that group buying represents but many more will have to do so next year as this trend is set to influence further consumer buying behaviour.

Mobile Devices

Another trend to influence online shopping has been the increased uptake of smartphones and the success of the iPad. Online retailers with a smartphone application or iPad version will be the ones who capitalise on this growth. It is also worth mentioning the impact that location-based applications will surely have next year, with Facebook Places and Foursquare already introducing the first of what is surely a long list of applications.

As the functionality, design and appeal of these applications grow, the bigger the opportunity there will be for brands to create new and exciting interactive experiences. The more companies move towards utilising social media for loyalty and reward programmes, the more valuable social media will become, not only for the tech-savvy but for all shoppers.

Savvier shoppers

Without question online shoppers have become savvier; they want a bespoke and tailored shopping experience, rather than what the masses are buying. They are looking to get the best deal they can, which is great for voucher code and cashback sites as we have all seen significant growth in the UK this year. It’s also great for online retailers with strong affiliate relationships in place such as Mothercare and Curry’s who use these affiliates as a vehicle to communicate offers to consumers.

Our own research* into consumer shopping habits indicates that British consumers are embracing deals discreetly; we found that 70% of consumers hide the true cost of the presents they buy for friends and family – buying items online at a discount, but failing to mention how much they had really paid. Research also shows that women are more likely than men to look for a bargain, with around 50% of women saying they checked for discounts before purchasing, with over a quarter of men saying they wouldn’t even bother checking the cost of an item elsewhere and would end up spending more than they had budgeted.

It is important retailers provide shoppers with a variety of deals and money off choices, ensuring they have a team in-house who can actively hunt out and find the best for deals shoppers, whether it’s a Tesco discount voucher or an Argos voucher code, all deals need to be live and accessible. Retailers need to provide shoppers with a personal experience and a greater number of local deals, achievable through the location-based applications previously mentioned. As the number of applications increases so will the strength of connection between customer and retailer.

Clearly, when looking forward to 2011, retailers need to continue to adapt to this new breed of consumer in order to match the needs of the savvy shopper. The technology and the know-how exists, it is just a race against time for retailers to get a larger slice of the online shopping pie.

* The research was carried out for Savoo by Opinion Matters between September 29 2010 and October 15 2010. Sample 2,017 UK adults.

Simon Bird is director of retail partnerships at voucher code website

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