Great Expectations: How Retailers Can Keep Up With Canadians on Mobile

IPG Mediabrands' Matt Ramella on how brands can avoid coming up short.

MRamella_headshot-150x200By Matt Ramella, Head of Digital Strategy & Partnerships, Canada, IPG Mediabrands

Connectivity is king. The connected future is here—and it’s created heightened expectations. If I’m any indication of the masses, there’s a gap between the rapidly changing behaviours of consumers and the slower pace of how marketers are adapting to the implications of mobile. Many brands are coming up short, and the good news is that the pieces of the puzzle are available to help us meet consumer needs at every step along their mobile-fueled journey.

Think with Google recently commissioned a study to explore how mobile and advances in technology are impacting Canadian consumer expectations and the future of the retail industry.

The insights that surfaced from the research are loud and clear. Canadians told us three things they find most important for brands in order to deliver a delightful mobile experience: convenience, helpful solutions and fast answers.

Ultimately, brand success now hinges on delivering seamless solutions—for everything consumers want to do on mobile. We can only accomplish this by putting people at the centre of everything we do. Gone are the days when consumers make purchase decisions on the fly while in the aisle. Among smartphone owners, 92% have researched online to decide which items to buy before they go to the store.1

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Our constant mobile companions give us options that make our lives easier.

Smartphones provide knowledge beyond what is immediately available. This levels the playing field across established players and new online-only retailers, creating disruption in the industry.

One of the differentiators of the mobile experience is that devices are aware of their own location. As Google’s research highlights, 66% of consumers expect to see online what stores nearby have the item they want in stock.2 Retailers must consider how all aspects of their mobile experience—from inventory count accuracy and “near me” mobile searches to one-click ordering—ultimately work together to provide people with greater convenience in real time.

Canadians expect companies to anticipate their needs on mobile, with simple things like in-app notifications of sales for products we’re interested in, or the features like ability to save product preferences. Increasingly, it’s how we shop that is on the brink of being transformed. One example: 43% of consumers are interested in household goods delivered to their home automatically if they’re running low. Furthermore, one in every two Canadians believe that auto-replenishment through subscription services will be the reality for most people in the next two years.3 These simple time savers reinforce how paramount convenience is to Canadians—and retailers need to move quickly to meet these needs in order to stay relevant and capture share of wallet.

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Advanced interfaces provide greater personalization and faster answers.

Rising expectations for convenience are driven by technology advancements—many of which are intrinsically connected to mobile devices. Over the past year, IPG Mediabrands has been focused on understanding rapid growth in areas such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, augmented & virtual reality, and conversational voice assistants. Even though these developments are still quite nascent, anticipated widespread impact of these interfaces (and the new sources of data they provide) will continue to elevate consumers’ desire for even more individualized experiences.

With the explosion of these new data sources, just think about how much more an advanced interface, like Google Assistant, can learn about our habits in order to better personalize  shopping experiences and get people what they need quicker than ever. With 73% of Canadian consumers interested in same-day delivery for online ordering, and 32% believing most consumers will have same-day delivery within the next 12 months,4 retailers that take too long to get us what we need will be left behind.

Having a presence on mobile is not enough. It’s about connecting everything we do around individuals.

As the Think with Google piece highlighted, having a mobile presence is only part of the solution. Retailers and agencies who create a successful strategy to (respectfully) blend online and in-store shopper data will not only provide people with a more personalized retail experience, they will make shopping  seamless across physical and digital.

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1 Google / Kelton. How digital innovations influence consumer expectations. December 2016. Online study to a nationally representative sample of Canadians 18+. n=2,225 smartphone owners.

Google/Ipsos Connect, “Rising Consumer Expectations in the Micro-Moment,” December 2016, Canada, n=1,317 Canada online smartphone users 18+.

3 Source: Google / Kelton. How digital innovations influence consumer expectations. December 2016. Online study to a nationally representative sample of Canadians 18+. n=3,077

4 Source: Google / Kelton. How digital innovations influence consumer expectations. December 2016. Online study to a nationally representative sample of Canadians 18+. n=3,077