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Faster Shopping: A Top Consumer Trend for 2017

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In 2017, consumers are impatient. The digital world has schooled more of them into becoming so-called “IWWIWWIWI” — “I want what I want when I want it” — consumers, impulsive and in pursuit of immediate gratification. They want services yesterday and real-time virtual dialogue with their brands. Ordering in advance is no longer enough. Brands are responding with a slew of speed-up business models, from one-hour delivery to offers via beacon technology, used by retailers to broadcast messages to nearby consumers via their smartphones.

Rapid convenience

Internet shopping giant Amazon is working on delivering packages to people’s homes in under 30 minutes through the use of drones. Amazon customers in France can already buy SEAT Mii city cars from the shopping site, delivered to their home within 72 hours. The #DeliveryToEnjoy campaign has been created to enhance the vehicle buying experience, “offering a 100% online experience, with speed and respect of delivery and a streamlined payment solution”, says SEAT.

In London, new service Doctaly gives patients a guaranteed same-day appointment with a National Health Service general practitioner, offering them faster access to medical advice, for a fee. The success of this enterprise has led to plans to roll it out nationally. Push Doctor, offering virtual consultations, promises that “The wait is over. Whether you’re unwell, looking to improve your fitness, have a specific aspiration in mind, or just a quick question — you can talk face-to-face with a professional, caring UK doctor in as little as six minutes”.

“Proximity-aware tech” has an obvious fit with more spontaneous shopping habits and the ubiquity of smartphones, as it facilitates an immediate response when consumers are right by retailers or service-providers. Sending alerts from beacons in stores directly to the mobile phones of passers-by, it is a communications tool that is growing in popularity and getting more sophisticated. Alerts, often flagging offers, are increasingly tailored to past purchases or items customers have viewed on the brand’s website. KNOMI, a London fashion boutiques app offers this. Many consumers consider these targeted, more relevant promotions less irritating than regular ads, as they are being messaged about something they want and in a location where they can act on it. ShopAdvisor, working with brands and lifestyle magazines, claims to create mobile shopping experiences via its proximity marketing service, “Your personal shopping concierge for fashion, tech, décor and more”.

Food rush

Next-day delivery is being overtaken by ever-faster delivery possibilities for the shopper in a rush. UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s launched one-hour delivery of food and groceries by bike in parts of London in September 2016, the first UK supermarket to do so. It is doing this via its Chop Chop app, competing with Amazon’s Prime Now and Deliveroo. Sainsbury’s said that the technology is perfect for buying up to 20 goods in an emergency. Sainsbury’s director of digital and technology told Telegraph Online that this development is “part of our strategy to give our customers more options to shop with us whenever and wherever they want. Speed of delivery is important to some customers, so we have brought back our bicycle service to test demand further”.

As consumers want healthier, better quality food on-the-go or delivered, brands are evolving to meet this interest. For instance, UK bakery chain Greggs, with almost 2,000 outlets, is considering moving away from traditional bakery items to focus on lower-calorie and gluten-free food on-the-go after seeing its business grow with the launch of its healthier “Balanced Choice” range. So-called “groceraunts” attest to the consumer interest in fast food as they become even more popular. For customers out food shopping, there are in-store restaurants and bars in shops like Whole Foods, which considers itself a pioneer in providing restaurant-quality meals to shoppers. Its new store in Hawaii will feature 200 seats for shoppers to enjoy a meal.

The appetite for apps means that tech-driven delivery is “disrupting” food service worldwide. China’s internet companies, such as Ele.me and Meituan Waimai, are competing with Western food chains via apps by offering door-to-door delivery to homes and offices from a choice of thousands of restaurants. Their apps display menus of smaller local eateries as well as big chains, allowing online customers to access a wide variety of choice via a single channel.

Fashion’s fast lane

Fashion is getting faster. Alongside the fast-track interpretation of catwalk trends for the high street, genuine designer pieces from the catwalk are now walking into fashionistas’ lives much sooner. This trend has been attributed to the influence of social media and e-commerce, which have led to shorter attention spans and have trained consumers to insist on instant gratification.

Several designer labels are adopting a  “see-now, shop-now” trend, letting consumers buy or order new fashion items they see on Instagram almost immediately; these include Burberry and Tom Ford. In a statement, Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s CEO and chief creative officer, explains that this trend will build a closer connection between the experience created on the catwalk and “the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves”.

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