Whilst our needs as shoppers have not changed, how we shop has. Digital technology has changed retail forever. Today we expect our shopping experience to be Everywhere, Instant & Personal.
Everywhere can mean anywhere. We can access on-line retail instantly though any number of devices wherever and whenever we want. Meanwhile the cookie and recommendations are redefining the personal service we once loved at our local store.
Proximity and location will always be a key driver for which retailer shoppers chose to visit, but having bricks and mortar in every community is no longer the winning strategy for retailer growth. In April this year, Tesco Chief Executive Philip Clarke proclaimed the end of ‘space race’ as the retailer’s profits fell. He has cut their UK store expansion plans and confirmed their exit from US. At the same time Tesco continues to test new retail technologies, and their Home Plus virtual store in a Seoul subway has become the benchmark of Everywhere retail.
South Korea retailers continue to redefine shopping experience and some of the most interesting work is coming from Tesco’s larger competitor Emart. They are working to meet the expectations of today’s shoppers and recently they took the location everywhere battle a step further with a flying store. No surprise that it was a big hit with Korean shoppers.
This work followed the highly successful Sunny Sale campaign that ran in 2012. Using more traditional technology, a shadow QR code, Emart promoted discounts that were available when people shopped at lunchtime. The QR code took shoppers directly to their mobile store where they could take advantage of the offers instantly.
But perhaps most interesting was a trial they ran earlier this year using new-store technology that enabled shoppers to locate the best offers in-store with their smartphone.
Emart Sale Navigation demonstrates how smart phones might help us shop. Yes they started out with tried and tested price promotion, but the opportunity to deliver solutions to shoppers, to educate or inspire is there too. And I’m sure we will see brands wanting to open up the platform to promote in more exciting ways. But most importantly it has the opportunity to be very personal and reinvent one of the most impersonal places there is, the supermarket.
Simon Hathaway, President SMRO