Millennials are changing the way the High Street works
ROPO - not yet more text-speak - but a new acronym (Research Online, Purchase Offline) created to explain the seismic shift in shopping behaviour of the 'mobile first' generation. This growing phenomenon means retailers are kitting out the High Street with technology that takes into account new shopping habits.
You or I are probably used to researching our next purchase on the High Street, and then picking up a bargain on Amazon later. Your teenage daughter, in contrast, is probably out with her friends; has been checking out the new looks from bloggers or celebrities on Instagram; researches to find suitable pieces on her favourite brand's mobile site; and then heads to the nearest store ready to purchase. On stepping in, she consults her phone and receives a message that suggests a route through the store, guiding her to exactly what she's looking for and suggesting other clothing that matches her personal style. She then receives an exclusive promotion on an item she loves. She's a happy customer.
Her habits, and those of her generation, are driving change in how brands connect with shoppers - and making shopping easier and more interesting for all of us. The technology needed to make this experience a reality is already being used by companies keen not only to capture this Millennial market but to use them to connect with all customers.
For most of us, mobile is already at the heart of the shopping experience (88% of us now own a smartphone, and very few would leave the house without it). As a result, our favourite shops are now starting to recognise the need to close the gap between the mobile shop and our real world shopping experience, largely by using people's locations (enabled by the fact that 64% of us use our mobiles in-store).
Big brands are investing heavily in bringing this technology into the mainstream, some through 'beacon' technology.
McDonalds was one of the early adopters of beacon technology. During a four week trial, 26 participating locations in Colombus tempted hungry Christmas customers into their restaurants by wirelessly pushing personalised promotions and coupons directly to the mobiles of nearby shoppers. House of Fraser has even experimented with beacons in mannequins, which provide information and directions to the clothes they are wearing.
There are other unseen forces shaping your shopping trip... You may have seen your teenager using their phone to recognise a song they like, or you may even have 'Shazamed' a tune in a bar or a shop yourself - the Shazam app is a British tech success story and is used by over 100 million people. Well now shops such as Office Depot in the US are using it to send tailored messages and offers to customers through an 'audio watermark' based in the music played in the store. We're sure after ensuring they have an attention-grabbing playlist.
If you want to catch a glimpse of how tech will revolutionise shopping - and so many aspects of our lives - it's worth keeping an eye on the changing habits of our mobile-obsessed teens. Done well, brands can personalise our shopping like never before and create a really enjoyable experience. So next time your teenager is dragging you to the High Street - thank them.