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The Digital Evolution | Q&A with ShopFully

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By Published On: August 5, 20210 Comments

ShopFully is a Milan-founded tech company that aims to make local shopping easier. We sat down with Dean Vocisano, Country Manager for Australia at ShopFully, to discuss the future of digital catalogues, the importance of apps for retailers and what brand loyalty looks like in 2021.

Q: What is ShopFully, and what do you do for retailers in Australia?

ShopFully is a tech company that simplifies local shopping for both retailers and consumers. We provide a single hyperlocal intelligence platform for retailers to offer their storefronts directly to consumers. With the support of our app and web platform, we’re able to make the experience of viewing local products, prices and promotions transparent and intuitive for millions of shoppers.

Being founded in Italy in 2010 and launched in Australia in 2017, we’ve had the opportunity to observe the process of digital catalogue transformation there, and our aim is to import these findings to make local shopping easier here as well. 

Consumers still want to shop in-store, but our research has shown they often don’t know where to go to find the products they’re after or the best deals. We’re the bridge between digital engagement and in-store visits for local retailers.

In Australia, we’re thrilled to be working with local retailers like Coles, ALDI, Officeworks, Dan Murphy’s, IGA Liquor, Myer, Big W, Officeworks, The Good Guys and Godfreys. We’ve also partnered with brands like Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s, Ferrero, Dyson, Nespresso, Samsung, Lenovo, OMO, Optus and Telstra.

Q: In the current climate, digitisation and e-commerce are the priority focus for a lot of retailers. Especially now, how can ShopFully help retailers achieve their goals online?

The global pandemic accelerated the retail industry’s digital transformation almost overnight. Consumers no longer see the difference between online and offlinethey want the best of both worlds delivered as a seamless experience. In fact, Aussies are increasingly using their smartphone as an anywhere, anytime ‘remote control’ for shopping, to plan in-store trips in advance, seek out product information, and find the best deals.

The reality is that catalogues still play an influential role in the path to purchase, both in-store and online in Australia. Our recent Nielsen research found 80 percent of Aussie consumers use digital platforms to collect information on the stores to visit, while almost as many (79 percent), ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ read catalogues when making purchase decisions.

Through our ShopFully mobile-first marketplace, we’re helping retailers and brands reach over 12 million Australians and influence purchasing decisions. In recent months, we’ve seen an 88 percent increase in in-app new sessions from consumers searching our catalogue database and a 35 percent increase in engagement.

via ShopFully

Q: Based on your research with Nielsen, what did it discover about consumer shopping habits? What do these findings mean for retailers going ahead?

Our research with Nielsen found the COVID-19 pandemic has forced over one-third (34 percent) of Australians to be more careful with their spending due to budget constraints. As a result, three in 10 (28 percent) consumers have started to actively look for promotions due to a tighter budget, while nearly one-quarter (24 percent) are more flexible in their brand choices.

The research also demonstrated as shoppers look to save, the average catalogue reader is spending around nine minutes browsing per week, and two in three (63 percent) are searching for better deals and promotions.

Along with these financial motivations, spending more time at home has increased online browsing time considerably. So there’s a significant opportunity to connect the physical store and digital universe to help better inform future purchasing decisions. 

The research tells us Australians are increasingly price loyal, with over half (57 percent) of the nation being happy to switch brands due to bargains or special offers. This has been compounded by the pandemic, so what retailers need to ensure is they are adapting to meet consumer demands, and effectively having a presence on the channels consumers are on with their best offers.

These changing consumer needs have the potential to erode market share. In these challenging times, retailers, therefore, need to adapt and find a way to reconnect emotionally with consumers, as well as use things like shop local through ShopFully, and sourcing from local Australian providers, because this is the way they’re going to keep market share.

Q: You mentioned earlier the importance of catalogues. And in recent months, retailers like IKEA have decided to switch it up and changed the idea of catalogues entirely. Do you expect this trend to become an integral part of the retail landscape in the future?

Digital catalogue readership has been on the rise for some time, and the global pandemic only accelerated uptake as retailers like Coles ceased catalogue distribution. Australian retailers saw a phenomenal year-on-year increase in the use of digital catalogues last year. In fact, our research with Nielsen found Aussie catalogue readers are referring to digital versions 60 percent more frequently than their paper counterparts.

I’ve been working in the catalogue space for close to 12 years, both online and offline, and I have seen the recent industry-wide push towards digital transformation. 

At ShopFully we’ve seen an 88 percent increase in in-app new sessions from consumers searching our catalogue database and a 35 percent increase in engagement between 2019 and 2020. What this really speaks to, is that digital catalogues are no longer a trend or novelty – they’re here to stay, and a sign that the wider digital retail evolution is not slowing down. 

Aussies are increasingly tapping into the smartphone as a central retail resource and not going back to physical catalogues. There are major benefits for both retailers and consumers of digital catalogues over physical ones. For retailers, there’s less wastage and costs, and more chance to find the right consumers at the right time – all pieces of data that can help drive decisions through a customer-centric lens. For consumers, they have the best local deals at their fingertips anytime, any place. These benefits have seen consumers consistently making the transition to digital with plans to stay, even past COVID. 

via ShopFully

Q: Touching on that, what do you think are some of the leading trends that ShopFully expects to see in the near future?

A key consumer trend will no doubt be a demand for increasingly simplified shopping experiences that save time and money, as the line between online and offline shopping is blurred. We can see this already with the expected usability of mobile platforms; consumers are expecting a similarly seamless experience with retailers. In the past, there have been offline promotions that speak to one particular audience and online promotions that speak to another particular audience. But now those consumers are all one and need to be treated as such. 

Omni-channel marketing is therefore increasingly a necessity, and we’ll continue to see retailers place more emphasis on delivering a consistent, easy customer experience across the entire path to purchase. 

As Aussies continue to plan their shopping before purchase, we’ll see the purchase preparation happening at home, while the majority of shopping will continue in-store (lockdown dependent). 

Our Nielsen research found 57 percent of Australians preferred to do the research online and then buy the same item in-store. So a major future trend we’ll be seeing is consumers will continue to search for products from their couch, virtually exploring supermarket aisles and sourcing more information with a simple tap, before saving the best offers for later shopping.

Q: Many retailers introduce an App to complement their online strategy. Do you think that Apps are an important part of the online journey? How can retailers make the most of their App?

Apps are an integral part of the retail experience, there’s no doubt about it. However, creating an app requires a sizable financial investment, not just for initial development and user experience, but also for content development and promotion to get prospective and existing customers to download and use the app consistently. Then there’s the ongoing maintenance, so the culmination of these costs can absolutely be prohibitive for retailers.

So, it’s important to take a step back, consider your customers’ path to purchase, and ask if your business genuinely needs its own app. Perhaps, instead, it makes sense to tap into existing apps customers are already engaging with as they make purchasing decisions. Our research with Nielsen found almost one-third (30 percent) of Aussies are turning to apps and platforms like ShopFully that offer various catalogues, or a collation of information, in one place.

It’s important to remember consumers are increasingly looking for a simplistic, unified solution when making purchasing decisions to save time and money. So having multiple apps across an array of retailers isn’t what consumers want, or where the direction of the market is headed. Retailers must consider what specific purpose an app is serving and what their customers actually need to use it for prior to making any investment. 

Q: Is there anything exciting coming our way from ShopFully? 

ShopFully has the soul of a tech company, and we’re always looking at how we can innovate our marketplace and our hyperlocal intelligence platform to make local shopping easier for Aussie consumers and the retailers looking to reach them.

Following conversations with our users, we recently launched an in-app savings list feature to simplify how Aussies plan for their in-store shopping trips. We made the ‘My Savings’ list more than just a traditional shopping list, it actually allows shoppers to create multiple lists of their favourite products on offer from catalogues on the app, but also products they intend to purchase that are not available on retailers’ catalogues, from grocery items to big-ticket purchases like televisions and vacuums.

We’ll always be focused on helping retailers leverage digital technology to drive customers into their physical stores. However, consumers want choice, so we’re working to integrate more omnichannel solutions into our app so customers can purchase from multiple retailers with ease.

There are a number of exciting updates launching over the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled. In three years we want ShopFully to be recognised as the number one tech company making local shopping easier for consumers, retailers and brands, so your best bet we’re not slowing down anytime soon.

To find out more and discover how ShopFully is working with Australian retailers and brands to drive traffic in-store, visit corporate.shopfully.com.

About the Author: Ally Feiam

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