The supermarket’s Xmas sales slump is an indication of the massive changes happening in retail. An article in the Guardian explores the reasons behind Tesco’s poor performance: ‘The age of the fortnightly shop is disappearing as more people turn to mobile devices’. I’d previously blogged about how online and mobile are changing the face of retail. It looks like those changes are coming faster than expected.
Tesco’s problem is that consumers now have the tools to fight the supermarkets dominance. They can no longer have it all their own way. We have a situation where consumers are generally both cash and time poor. Necessity is driving us to find the best bargains. They are found online, but increasingly, they are being found on smartphones whilst shoppers are in the supermarkets. Some shops are beginning to get it. ‘Click to collect’, for example, represented 10.4% of all orders at the end of 2011. Whilst a majority of online orders are home deliveries, not everyone wants that. Click to collect offers an immediate solution without the hassle of queuing in the store. Other attractions such as free WiFi to help shoppers find the best deals and more engaging interactions such as virtual mirrors are also supporting the in-store mobile experience. John Lewis has made a point of going for mobile sales, and encourage customers to make price comparisons on their smartphones.
In the end, we will see more diverse shopping behaviours, driven largely by smartphones. Hopefully the biggest benefit will be the end of that dreaded phrase, ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’.