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What's happened to shopping habits?

Shelburne Ferguson, Jr. • Feb 11, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Your personal brand is an observation maintained by potential “customers, clients, patients, patrons, shoppers, etc.” through whom the customers perceive the true nature of the experience of doing business with you as well as consuming your products and services.

The true success of your brand depends on the sustained success of the contacts personally experienced between you and your customers which ultimately builds the success of your business.

Businesses in our nearby communities often offer brand messages on billboards, in newspapers, as TV ads and their delivery trucks. According to American Marketing Association and other sources, “Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. And as marketers are presented with more and more channels to reach their customers, that number is growing rapidly.”

As I write this column, most of you know that our local KMart is going out of business. Other stores in the Tri-Cities area are close behind. It is interesting that E.MarketerRetail reported the results of a survey by RIS as follows: “A June 2018 survey by RIS News asked U.S. internet users about the ways they’d changed their shopping behavior compared with five years ago. Not surprisingly, 83 percent said they now shopped online more, and 55 percent said they shopped at malls less often. Stores as a general category had mixed responses; 24 percent of respondents shopped more in brick-and-mortar locations, while 31 percent shopped in-store less.”

What does this attitudinal change in the shopping habits of consumers’ mean for the retail future? As retail stores close around the country, customers have opted for online shopping channels. RIS again asked the internet users what they have done more recently to fulfill their shopping. “Eighty three  percent said they now shopped online more, and 55 percent said they shopped at malls less often. Stores as a general category had mixed responses; 24 percent of respondents shopped more in brick-and-mortar locations, while 31 percent shopped in-stores less.”

A significant group of consumers want to use the smartphone technology that surveys show 59 percent of retail consumers’ desire what is called “Grab and Go.” This approach is likely to offer in the near future the shopper to use their smartphone to help them find the wanted item in the store. Once the shopper locates the wanted items, and places the order on their smartphone, they can walk out of the store. Phones are being used to locate the addresses of stores, the hours of opening and closing (daily).

Most of the innovations in retail stores seem to take their direction from online shopping. Some stores in larger cities are using drones to deliver customer purchases and virtual computers to generate “Try On” instore displays.

It is interesting that most surveys of retail shoppers reveal most shoppers prefer the physical store and do not believe physical stores will not go out of business. The survey by Retail Systems Research (RSR) revealed 87 percent of retailers believed that “physical store would not lose importance in the future.” It strikes me that the owners and managers of physical retail stores in order to be around in the future must depend on the personalities, values, and principles of the physical retail store. Moreover, management must make it clear to their customers that management is there for the customer, their needs and that management is concerned a likeable relationship between management and the customer is well established and is clearly recognizable at all times.

Mr. Ferguson is a Kingsport attorney.You can reach him at: 423/246-3132..

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