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The new digital shopper


ipad, tablet, onlineIn 1909, Henry Ford told customers they could have a car painted any colour… as long as it was black.

In 2014, digital shopping is the new black.

We’ve gone from Ford’s single choice to shoppers with unlimited choice and ubiquitous access to content, which in turn drives new shopper behaviours and expectations.

A recent Cisco survey found eight in 10 shoppers now use the Internet to purchase and research products and services.

One in five almost never shop without using their smartphone instore.

Continually connected consumers start the shopping process at home, so savvy retailers integrate technology across the whole purchase journey – before, during and after – for a seamless customer experience.

Retailers need to engage shoppers seamlessly, whether a purchase is made instore or online.

That’s why US retailer Neiman Marcus merged the merchandising and planning arms for its store and online businesses into a single team this month.

This provides its shoppers with a a seamless, consistent merchandising experience that improves customer experience and loyalty regardless of channel.

The three key elements required for digital shopper success for retailers are personalisation, privacy and pathways to innovation.


Three in four shoppers want a personalised experience, and it doesn’t come more personalised than fingerprint recognition.

Users of the new Samsung Galaxy S5 can log in, shop and pay at merchants that accept PayPal on mobile and instore with the swipe of a finger.

Nike fans can customise their own shoes, from colour and fabric selection to the flexibility of the sole with NikeID.

In New York and San Francisco, Macy’s is trialling Apple’s iBeacon.

When iPhone users with the Shopkick retail app enter the store, a notification alerts them to deals and reminds them of products they were interested in.


The promise of personalisation will come to nothing if retailers don’t address shopper distrust.

A clear majority of shoppers are only willing to share basic transactional information.

Retailers must establish trust that data will be captured and used in permissible ways, non-intrusively, kept safe and secure, and create tangible value for shoppers.

Despite shopper concerns about privacy, they will respond to this carrot: offer a discount on the next purchase and they’re more likely to provide personal information.

Pathway to innovation

Digital innovations are helping progressive retailers better connect with digitally driven shoppers.

Functional technology is making the shopping process more efficient and entertainment centred technology is creating better instore experiences.

At Seattle-based apparel store, Hointer, clothes placed in a virtual shopping cart using the store’s app are delivered by robot to a change room within 30 seconds.

The clothes can be purchased in the fitting room by swiping a card on a tablet kiosk’s card reader.

Actioning the “total shopper journey” philosophy, Hointer also offers tailoring of purchases with free, next day custom alterations.

Diesel, Topshop, John Lewis and Adidas have virtual fitting rooms featuring body scanning technology and 3D imagery to create a digital replica of how a customer would look in an outfit.

Increasingly retailers are building new retail customer experiences with digital at the core. This is vital.

Social currency replaced hard currency at Marc Jacob’s Daisy pop up Tweet Shop over three days during New York fashion week.

Daisy fragrance fans that posted on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain instore, and showed the hostess their phones, received deluxe samples.

The result was 13,500 Twitter mentions, 4,300 Instagram mentions and 770,000 Facebook Likes – all from engaging with communities of passionate brand advocates.

A selection of the images uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #mjdaisychain
A selection of the images uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #mjdaisychain

Digital shopping is the new norm. In the future, shoppers won’t need to search for content.

Content will find them – and provide the information they want – before they’ve even thought to ask for it.

Retailers that offer seamlessness, useful and personal experiences will engage those digital shoppers, and keep those ‘digi-tills’ ringing.

Caroline Ghatt is planning director, brand and retail, at Leo Burnett Sydney.

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