Mobility & Commerce: Do They Even Relate?By Anasofia Sanchez Juarez | Fri, 08/07/2020 - 08:00
Mobility is such a common theme nowadays but it’s confusing when half, or more, of the world has come to a stop. There is a saying for when things get overwhelming: “Stop the world, I want to get off.” Well, it happened; the world stopped, we effectively got off. Was this what we expected?
To start with, when mobility stops, we obviously stop going places. One of the best things about Waze, other than taking us out of traffic, is that we know on aggregate how people love to go to restaurants, malls, stores, supermarkets, sports venues, basically every business. As humans, we always try to find a way to cover our needs, and when we can’t move around, the virtual world comes in very handy. Indeed, the times we live in are proving that e-commerce has enormous potential for growth and that humans have a strong need to buy, but we have discovered much more.
First of all, we know that e-commerce is perceived as the king for confinement. A Kantar study showed it grew in two months what it was expected to grow in two years. But what is not so clear is the consumer experience behind this growth. Retailers were faced with new consumer demands, mainly immediacy. Given the volume, not all demand was met, proving that e-commerce is highly dependent on logistics development. On the other hand, when confinement ended, we witnessed lines and lines of people wanting to enter physical stores. We can conclude that online shopping can meet the practical needs of consumers more efficiently, but generally it does not involve consumers on an emotional level in the same way that physical shopping experiences can. At least for now. The opportunity in Mexico is still big.
I believe shopping will never be the same. From where I sit, there is a massive opportunity to transform the in-store shopping experience. According to AMVO, only 13 percent of all shoppers declare they will only buy online, which means that the physical point of sale is still very relevant for the other 87 percent, but there are too many challenges still to face.
From an April 2020 Forrester* study, we know that brands seek to increase store visits but struggle to target consumers in the right moment. Context can be the differentiator. Where consumers are and where they are going are critical pieces of information for marketers to deliver relevant messaging within that context. Forrester found that brands are prioritizing in-person visits, valuing brick-and-mortar customers and setting their sights on the advertisement context.
Store visits across industries are a priority because even though e-commerce grew 290 percent, for most businesses, it sadly did not compensate for drops in their total sales levels, which is why 87 percent of respondents say that increasing in-person visits to brick-and-mortar locations is a critical or high priority in the next 12 months. Eighty-five percent say the same about increasing in-store purchases.
The challenge here is that brick and mortar customers, who are perceived to be more loyal and who make more frequent purchases that lead to a higher customer lifetime value, need to adapt to a new shopping experience. Retailers and brands need to be part of this change and educate consumers so they can again enjoy the pleasure of shopping.
So how can we bring foot traffic back into our stores and regain these loyal customers? Today the right moment is everything. The Forrester study shows that more than three in four marketers say their firms struggle to reach customers at influential moments, but those marketers who use digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising have a lower struggle rate.
At Waze, we have identified the on-the-go moment as a very strategic touchpoint, where connecting with consumers (in our case, with drivers) has become a key differentiator for those brands that want to drive people to stores and connect with them during the pre-consumption moment.
Why is this relevant in the current context? With the pandemic getting longer, we are starting to see a trend in other countries where the automobile is becoming much more relevant. Being perceived as an extension of our home in terms of hygiene, the automobile has a direct impact on consumer behavior. We have seen vacations being spent in places closer to home, places to which one can drive. Entertainment is being modified to bigger open-air spaces where one can only go by car. The drive-in movie theaters from my childhood, for example, are back. Shows and concerts will be watched from our own cars. There is an opportunity for the automotive industry to capitalize on the preference among 80 percent of the Mexican population to move by private car, according to Ipsos. We have also heard terms like “retailtainment.” How can the retail industry create a better experience for those consumers who love their physical stores and, as I mentioned, are much more loyal? One example in the US is Walmart, which has turned its parking lots into drive-in theaters.
As part of this car-relevance trend, we also saw an increased interest in consumers to buy from drive thrus and in Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS). Businesses that had a contactless option available to acquire goods were preferred over those that did not. It was interesting to see how leading supermarkets in Mexico implemented BOPIS throughout the pandemic when in February only one had it. That is a reason why we, as an on-the-go platform, identified the opportunity for brands to fortify their utilitarian role, and implemented specific icons so consumers could identify which businesses were offering which pick-up method to drive traffic to those points of sale.
Here at Waze, we still cannot conclude how mobility will really impact commerce in the future but what we do see today are three main things. First, it’s the best time to consolidate omnichannel retail. Consumers want a brand experience wherever and whenever they want it. Second, finding our consumer’s best influential moment is key. DOOH advertising delivers on the consumer context to drive results. Third, it’s time to innovate and educate on brand communication. We need to play the protagonist much more so that communities can better interact with our brands and with each other when people bring mobility back to stores, businesses and cities.