There has been a noticeable trend in the way consumers talk about shopping.  Shopping is now no longer a destination but now firmly considered an activity.  Consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to product purchase with literally thousands of products available, but the push towards online shopping has broadened the path to purchase choice, even the device choice is now a factor.

If a consumer makes the conscious choice to leave the comfort of their home and engage in an instore activity what can brands and retailers do to optimise that interaction and turn the shopper into a purchaser?

As a POP supplier now more than ever seems the perfect time to create POP that converts sales versus glorifies the good for online sales.  To me, the theatre of a display as well as meeting that immediate consumer need is what will drive engagement and ultimately sales.  Whether it is creating a destination for a subcategory, a popup shop event or digital interaction the opportunities are endless for those willing to innovate.

The IBM Smarter Consumer Study produced by the IBM Institute for Business Value notes that “Among retail channels, the physical store continues to capture the majority of consumer purchases. However the appeal of ‘brick and mortar’ is quickly giving way to digital options” So the consumer engagement through your point of purchase display, encouraging that in store brand connection and purchase appeal is now a significant strategy for longevity.

The ability to interrupt a shopper off location, whether it be within a retail store but outside of traditional aisle placement or with an off premise pop up kiosk is now a key to success.  Inside Shopper recently hit the nail on the head outlining the global trend, now impacting Australia, where retailers are bringing occasions in store or at the very least offline.

The recent Streets Magnum Pleasure Store pop up kiosk in Sydney city centre, which allowed consumers to design their own personalised Magnum and once created on the spot, consumers were then encouraged to share their experiences via social media driving brand recognition and satisfaction online. This turned getting an ice cream into an occasion and proved, in this instance, that for this occasion shoppers were willing to pay almost double the recommended retail price of a standard Magnum and wait for considerable periods of time.  These sort of results could certainly make a brand manager think about combatting online shoppers looking for the best deals based on price alone.

It is also a matter to consider the up and coming trends that have the ability to change the consumers path to purchase. The growing global trend towards “show rooming”, where consumers try on a product or research in store, but ultimately purchase online is the perfect example of “what next”.  This ability for a brand to create an occasion in the store environment could aid as a strategy to negate this effect as it increases in the Australian market, buoyed by our Asian neighbours.  There are retailers providing online purchasing facilities in store, on an activation or display to ensure shopper conversion for ease of delivery or when stock is elsewhere.  It is these kinds of strategies that will, in my opinion, need to be encouraged in the future, to negate lost sales today that cannot be made up tomorrow, they are gone for good. 

Whether it is as elaborate as a pop up kiosk or more subtle in store subcategory creation, strategic thought about POP as part of the overall marketing strategy is key to capturing the shopper engagement and ultimately building a brand presence. To me as a POP supplier it is about collaborating with a brand or retailer by combining their overall strategic vision with their consumer insight data with the retail environment to harness shopping as an activity. This should delight the consumer enough to have them return and even more importantly become the best ambassador for your brand in the marketplace.

First published in Retail World Australia 6th September 2013