Consumer app spending is up 73%.
Consumer app spending is up 73%.

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Is Amazon a monopoly?

We asked our consumer panel…

They said yes. 59% of in-store shoppers and 52% of app shoppers think Amazon has a monopoly. And, it makes sense. See, times have changed. Back in the good ol’ days, pre-COVID, you mainly shopped in-store. So, it was NBD that Amazon was the king of eCommerce. You didn’t need to competitive shop on apps.

Oh, how times have changed.

Now, 61% of people shop on eCommerce more than 30% of the time.1 No need to be a math whiz to see an increase in these numbers. So, naturally, buyers want more options online. Like they enjoy when they shop in-person. Lucky for them, two players are quite happy to challenge Amazon: Walmart Plus & Target Shipt.

It’s a juicy opportunity.

At the start of 2020, there were more than 150 million paid Prime members worldwide, according to Jeff Bezos.2 That’s a number Walmart Plus & Target Shipt would both love to steal. And there’s plenty of market share to take from. The eCommerce giant currently accounts for roughly 38% of all online retail sales in the United States.3 Amazon is clearly on top of its game.

You might say, they’re Primed for competition 😉

How Walmart+ is waging war.

Walmart has a win in mind. They’re want to kick Amazon off their horse. And here’s how they plan to do it:

  1. Free delivery: Customers will receive as fast as same-day delivery on more than 160,000 items including tech, toys, household essentials, and groceries.2
  2. Scan & Go: This feature in the Walmart app will allow for a faster way to shop in-store. Using the Walmart app, customers can scan their items as they shop and pay using Walmart Pay for a quick and touch-free payment experience.2
  3. Fuel discounts: Walmart Plus members will be able to save up to 5 cents per gallon at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express fuel stations. Sam’s Club fuel stations will also be added to the lineup.2
  4. Same-day deliveries: Although Walmart requires orders to be over $35, it won’t charge for same-day deliveries like Amazon does.4

That’s quite the list.

But, is it enough?

Let’s take a look at Target Shipt. 

But, Walmart’s not the only retailer in town. As any mom will tell you, Target does a great job at vying for hard-earned cash. And this pandemic has given them a great chance to leverage their recent Shipt acquisition to challenge both Amazon and Walmart.

  1. Same-day deliveries: Target Shipt offers same-day delivery of Target purchases, as quickly as within two hours of when you place an order.5
  2. Personal shopping: A personal shopper deployed by Shipt does your shopping. They text you if something you ordered is out of stock. When they’re done, your stuff gets delivered right to your front door—within normal business hours.5
  3. Low priced subscription: An annual subscription to Shipt is $99, or $8.25 a month, and includes unlimited orders of $35 or more from Target and participating stores in your area. 
  4. No membership required: Target Shipt doesn’t require a membership, if you want to, you pay $9.99 per delivery.

As you can see, Target Shipt is taking a different path than Prime and Plus are. 

Most notably, it doesn’t require you to subscribe to a membership, making the app easier to try out. Then they create value with a personal shopper. The red and white retailer is certainly doing their part to differentiate.

So, what does it all mean for you?

Well, if you sell in these categories, eCommerce retail wars have a direct impact on business.

There are now multiple chances to advertise and gain market share with the momentum that has been created by these retailers. If you’re a retailer yourself, it’s helpful to know what the competition is doing, so you can come prepared to the game.

And, if you’re in market research, you need to know how this impacts clients. No matter the industry, you’re well served to study the actions of these three giants. 

Here’s how you can do it.

Market research. Use it to find out exactly what consumers want— and then deliver.

And guess what? Research evolved too. In fact, you can now get eCommerce data on consumers that you could never access before. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to know what apps a consumer panel has on their smartphone. 

Simple. Ask the nation’s largest, highest-rated consumer panel. Surveys On The Go® can see other apps. You can look at shopping behavior, in-app purchases, and a whole lot more. So, once you know what you want to study, use a DIY platform, or call to get help with a QRE. 

But, maybe you need in-store data.

Cool. Surveys On The Go® can see where panelists have been—and where they’re going.  Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to talk to people who’ve shopped at Walmart or Target in the last 24 hours. Reach them while they’re still shopping to get rich insights with a Point of Emotion® survey. 

Need help? Email us. We help the world’s biggest brands get better, faster, more accurate data.

References:

  1. https://mfour.com/blog/amazon-prime-vs-walmart-plus-who-will-win/ 
  2. https://www.tomsguide.com/news/walmart-plus-membership-free-delivery#:~:text=Walmart%20Plus%20is%20a%20new,year%20or%20%2412.95%20a%20month
  3. https://www.emarketer.com/content/top-10-us-ecommerce-companies-2020 
  4. https://www.techradar.com/news/walmart-plus-launch-date
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/blog/target-shipt-review/
Redefining customer experience: why 67% look for safety before shopping.

The customer experience was stripped bare.

When the virus spread, it took down safety and security with it. In fact, 72% of our consumer panel is still concerned. But, your brand is about to get them excited again.

Let’s get personal. 

Buyers are looking to their favorite brands to help them through a tough time. It’s in your hands. A full 62% believe that brands play a critical role in addressing the challenges of the crisis.1 They’ve opened the door—and are waiting for you to create a great customer experience for them.

Here’s why.

Even before the crisis, 59% of consumers said they felt that companies had lost touch with the human part of customer experience. And 75% say that they prefer to interact with a person, not a machine.2 Now their needs are amplified because they’re not getting the connections they crave. 

So, here are four ways you can impact customer experience—and sales:

  1. Safety
  2. Intimacy
  3. Prestige
  4. Fulfillment

#1: Safety

Maslow didn’t plan to be a marketer. 

But he was one. By creating a hierarchy of needs, Maslow also built a blueprint for customer experience. And right after accounting for physiological needs, that means creating safety. Which is timely, because right now, 67% of consumers have said they’re looking for safety before they choose a retailer.

They need to feel safe. And that’s not just with masks and sanitizer. It’s seeing what you’re doing as a brand.

Show them that you care about their wellbeing. They want order, predictability, and control. Especially now. Train your team to be aware of, and share, what your company is doing to help. The marketers who get this right—stand to win a massive amount of share. 

#2: Intimacy

Relationships motivate behavior.

Consumers want real people. Be proactive and ask what will make their lives better. Don’t stress them—or yourself—out by trying to guess what they want. Just ask. Send a survey while they’re in your location and get real-time feedback. Then, once you know what they want, make good on it. 

Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. This will help your buyers to feel intimately connected to your brand. It establishes trust. And trust is a trait that transcends hard times.

#3: Prestige

People love to be liked.

Reputation matters and they crave their peers’ respect. Many people have put themselves in the backseat during these times. Because, when you’re working from home—why not wear sweatpants, or pajamas for that matter? No one’s going to see you. But, now places are re-opening and they care again.

Help them to see how your brand meets their needs for respect and reputation. They’ll associate their positive self-perception with a high affinity for your brand. And you’ll create a loyal customer.

#4: Fulfillment

Maslow calls it self-actualization.

But, whatever name you’d like to use, it means the same thing: personal growth. The army does it well. Their tagline is “Be all that you can be.” A perfect embodiment of fulfillment. Just remember, before this need for growth can be met, your brand must have already helped consumers to reach the earlier steps.

That means your customer experience must first create safety, intimacy, and prestige. All of this comes before you can help the buyer to see how they can become a better person, as a result of your brand. 

So, here’s a little more help with that process.

Find out where you stand.

Consumer behavior has many motivating factors.

Your goal is to find out which ones work best for your brand—and your sales numbers. To do that, take stock of where you are today. 

Many companies are now overhauling their relationship surveys for new and relevant questions on customer relationships. You’re no doubt considering the same thing. That may mean adding new survey language, altering some of your questions, or collecting the data differently.

Here are two ideas for you:

1. Run an exit survey.

This is a simple way to see how consumers feel in-the-moment. 

It’s sent as a buyer, or a non-buyer, leaves your location. You can ask exactly how they feel as they leave. Which is good, because 50% of shoppers forget what they did within an hour.3

The data is also representative of your buyers. Why? Because you’re only pinging the people who are naturally buying your product, or a competitor’s brand, as they’re leaving. No concerns here about relevance. This consumer panel, and their actions, is tied directly to your target market.

2. Send an app or web survey.

Online purchases are up 50%.4

Survey to see what shoppers are doing online–and why. New technology allows you to see consumers’ app behavior and to track where they’ve been online. It’s called a digital event survey. And, you can use it to capture accurate insights on buying behavior.  

This is a big move for the industry. You can now see eCommerce footprints, as well as physical ones. Use that data to impact your omnichannel strategy and beat your competitors before they ever reach the game.

There’s no question that the customer experience has changed. Now, it’s up to us to adjust. It’s time to be agile and to adapt. And the sooner we get started, the further ahead we’ll find ourselves.

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/04/27/customer-experience-mindset-in-a-post-covid-19-world-an-infograph/#6e7f0f4e3d0e
  2. https://www.strategy-business.com/blog/Redefining-customer-experience-Connecting-in-the-time-of-COVID-19?gko=245c0
  3. https://learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1379/brain-science-the-forgetting-curvethe-dirty-secret-of-corporate-training
  4. https://mfour.com/blog/walmart-is-stealing-from-amazon-and-its-working/
New habits: 76% now buy online, pick-up in-store.

Foot traffic has evolved.

Once an “in-store” metric, it’s now expanded to include online impressions as well. As an omnichannel metric, foot traffic is as vital to retailers, as essential workers are in a crisis.

In March, shopping came to a screeching halt1—so did in-store traffic. Retailers, big and small, could no longer rely on in-store sales. They were forced to expand. Yet, savvy retailers leaned into the change. They found a way to protect in-store habits, while ringing in extra sales online. 

How BOPIS boosts sales.

A hybrid approach, Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) brings together the best of both worlds. It lets customers get what they want—and protects the habit of in-store shopping. It’s an evolution.

And, it’s not new. Even so, the click-and-collect method has gained serious adoption in the past few months. In fact, 76% of US consumers are now buying online and picking up items in-store2.

Here’s why BOPIS skyrocketed in the crisis, it’s:

  • Fast. Items are ready for pickup in an hour, not days.
  • Free. 48% of shoppers use BOPIS to counter shipping fees3.
  • Safe. Consumers don’t have mass exposure to other shoppers.
  • Easy. There are no lines and no waiting; it’s instant in-store gratification.
  • Assured. Buyers have a 100% guarantee their item is in-stock at the store.

What should I know?

A BOPIS plan is essential to retailers, consumer goods companies—and market research firms, alike. Here are three ways to leverage consumer insights to build, or strengthen, your plans.

1. Harness the MAYA4 principle.

A woman buying online, ready to pick-up in-store

BOPIS creates a new, but familiar, habit. 

Retailers offset the “newness” of buying online by making it familiar: with an in-store pickup, showcasing the Most Advanced Yet Acceptable (MAYA) principle4 of making something novel feel familiar. Adding that in-store component creates instant comfort.

In times where consumers feel anxious, they crave this level of familiarity. If you’re a retailer and don’t have a BOPIS strategy—or just need to see how you’re doing, it’s a great time test it on real consumers. Observe shoppers as they walk inside a store, go online, or access an app, then survey them to see how they feel about your strategy.

2. Map the online Path-2-Purchase®. 

The crisis cratered brand loyalty5.

When shoppers couldn’t find what they wanted, they broke brand habits. And, they did so en force: 72% of in-store shoppers tried new brands in light of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, buyers tried on new behaviors. A full 73% moved to shopping on apps. Their actions drove a massive increase in eCommerce. And brands mapped their online Path-2-Purchase® to better meet their needs. You can too. Hear real consumers share in-the-moment, digital insights. Then, adjust the customer experience model for your brand or product, as needed.

3. Survey digital shopping behavior. 

Online sales are up 50%6

Shoppers are buying into omni-channel attitudes and behaviors—literally. And, the more they repeat these behaviors, the more permanent they become. We’re watching it now, 79% have already said they plan to keep shopping on apps after the crisis ends.

The change is permanent. Stay a step ahead of your competition by keeping a pulse on consumer behavior. This is a good time to see where consumers are going online and in-store, find out which apps they’re using, and survey them based on the actions they take. If you need a holistic view, consider a mobile tracker to track their data over time. It’s a helpful way to stay in touch with consumer needs.

We’re facing a new world.

One we didn’t dream of—even four months ago. As crazy as times are, they will also make us stronger. This is the time to be agile in our roles. A time to evolve. To be bold; be brave. And, if it makes sense for your business, to put in a strategy and capitalize on BOPIS. We can help. 

References:

  1. https://mfour.com/blog/geo-validated-traffic-top-5-dmas-return/ 
  2. https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/consumer-demand-for-bopis-and-virtual-service-increases-in-light-of-covid-19/
  3. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/bopis/#bopis-performance-in-the-retail-market
  4. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/01/what-makes-things-cool/508772/
  5. https://mfour.com/blog/the-new-hierarchy-four-stages-of-the-covid-19-consumer/ 
  6. https://mfour.com/report/consumer-spending-73-now-buying-on-apps/
Geo-validated traffic: the top 5 DMAs return.

Foot traffic screeched to a halt in March.

As states set-up stay-at-home protocols, consumers took action. They hunkered down inside their homes and prepared to weather the virus inside. 

Now in May, we’re starting to see the rising tide of recovery. 

Figure 1: Normalized Percentage Change to Observed Foot Traffic in The Top 5 DMAs

The Surveys On The Go® consumer panel shows a notable spike in foot traffic across all of the top five designated market areas (DMAs). 

Leading the charge, Atlanta rebounded in early April. Dallas/Fort Worth followed suit, taking the lead before month’s end. Chicago was a bit shy⁠—taking a bit of time before it started its climb. And, Los Angeles and New York are bringing up the rear, making progress at a much slower rate. 

Yet, New York’s movement may be the most significant; they were hit hardest. 

This makes their progress especially encouraging. It speaks to the desire for consumers to return to a “new normal”1 as the backbone of the economy2. So, while the economy will take time to heal3, it appears that we’re headed in the right direction; a great sign for spending.

Need more?

See new trends in your consumers’ geo-validated shopping visits as they navigate the top 5 DMA’s. Then, survey their opinions to get the “who, where, and why” as they handle each phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. For assistance, email solutions@mfour.com

References:

  1. https://mfour.com/blog/the-new-hierarchy-four-stages-of-the-covid-19-consumer/
  2. https://mfour.com/blog/coronavirus-impact/
  3. https://mfour.com/blog/digital-visibility-three-ways-to-combat-a-down-economy/
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