If the shopper journey encompasses pre-store, in-store and post-store, what is there that you can do pre and post that will support the work you are doing at the POP? ShopAbility’s Alison Sinclair discusses, for Convenience World Magazine.
In earlier Convenience World articles ShopAbility has referred to the path to purchase (P2P) and shopper purchase cycle (need, plan, search, compare, decide, buy, use, tell) and discussed the fact that the P2P is no longer considered to be linear. Rather, it is a cycle that incorporates pre-store, in-store and post-store. Here we will look at the impact of this cycle on the way you do business and how taking a holistic approach can work to your advantage.
If we are saying that the shopper exists outside the four walls of a store, what is there that you can do as a retailer pre-store and in-store that will compliment the activities and initiatives you are implementing inside your store in order to maximise your POP opportunities?
To get our heads around this, let’s consider which phases of the shopper purchase cycle happen pre and post-store. Once we understand this we can look for opportunities to use pre and post to drive traffic, increase frequency, drive repeat purchase and generally support POP initiatives, which will in turn generate incremental sales for your business.
Every purchase begins with a need or desire to acquire a product. It sounds obvious but it is worth considering for a number of reasons. Firstly, what is there that you can do to stimulate this need or desire while at the same time offering your store as the solution? Think about using motivators such as thirst quench or afternoon energy kick within the calls to action in your communications linked to beverage and snack categories in the external environment (e.g. advertising, external signage, etc.) and reinforce these messages in-store with consistent communication at the POP.
Also, think about the reasons why shoppers come to your store. What are you famous for? What would you like to be known for? How can you shape shopper perception of your store pre-store to ensure your store is top of mind or a destination to fulfill particular needs? Think about your strengths and make sure your business is famous for something, based on your site and location type. Communicate this to shoppers so you stand out from the crowd as a destination.
Once a shopper has established a need they will start to plan their shopping trip to fulfill this need. This may happen at a subconscious level, especially if they are in an area they are familiar with. They will mentally run through a list of potential stores in their head and assess the best solution for their immediate need. Are you top of mind with your local customers? What could you do to ensure you are?
The other thing to consider is that increasingly, shoppers are digitally enabled. They use their smartphones and mobile devices to plan their trip. Where will they go? What store is close by? Think about the sites shoppers might use to look for a convenience store if they don’t know the area. Are you represented on these sites or in these apps? If more people know your store is close by when they are looking to make a purchase then it makes sense that this will drive traffic to your store
SEARCH & COMPARE:
Search and compare is a phase in the purchase cycle that is most likely to be relevant to higher dollar purchases or high involvement categories. However, there are products and services that convenience stores offer that shoppers may search for information on. Think trailer hire, petrol prices or store locations on long or unfamiliar journeys. Would shoppers find you, your store, your services, etc. if they went searching?
Use is obviously the phase where the shopper becomes the consumer or they provide the product to the end consumer. Are they likely to have a good experience from the product or service they purchased in your store? Was the food fresh, the soft drink cold or the coffee hot? A bad experience is enough to stop a shopper returning to your store. Think about the products and services you sell. How can you give your customers the best possible experience to keep them coming back more often and make your store top of mind to visit next time a need arises.
Word of mouth has always been around but the fact that most people are now connected more than ever via social media to large groups of friends, family, followers and fans means that word spreads even faster. Shoppers talk about experiences and others listen. You only have to look at the recent social media stories that have made mainstream news to see the power of the tell phase of the purchase cycle.
Think about the service you provide, the experience shoppers have in your stores and the way you can generate positive word of mouth. Local stores could get more involved with local causes and charities to drive good will and buzz whereas arterial stores may look to implement shopper loyalty programs in-store to keep shoppers coming back and recommending your store to others.
Ultimately, if your objective is to sell more, to more people, more often then when you break it down it is very simple. Activating pre-store will attract more people (traffic). Post-store will help you bring them in more often (frequency). And in-store is where you work on selling them more with promotions that drive AWOP and spend. What that highlights nicely is the fact that you really can’t just rely on in-store anymore. You need to take into consideration pre and post to help drive your POP initiatives harder and ultimately grow your business