Supermarkets must embrace the 'connected shopper' to win sales

Retailers must embrace the connected shopper to drive growth into the future, or risk being trapped in a cycle of harmful and aggressive discounting, according to Jonathan Agnes, the chief executive officer of Constant Commerce.

Jonathan Agnes: the chief executive officer of Constant Commerce
Jonathan Agnes: the chief executive officer of Constant Commerce

Constant Commerce helps brands including Asda, Waitrose and Diageo to create shoppable content.

Unless they adapt, retailers risk being trapped in a cycle of aggressive promotions and price discounting to drive sales, and risk being overtaken by innovative and disruptive new channels, said Agnes.

Drawing a parallel with the plight of the music retail industry, hit in the late 90s by the rise of illegal download sites, fragmented consumer tastes and later the iPod, Agnes advised retailers to embrace the opportunity that the connected shopper represents.

He said multi-channel shopping had heightened the expectations and demands of consumers and would continue to do so, meaning that price was now an important but a "secondary" consideration for the connected consumer, who opts for convenience and wants the brand or retailer to "do the thinking".

In order to cater to this growing need state, retailers needed to "ease the cognitive burden" of shopping, catering to the "connected consumer’s expectations around curated experiences and rich media that doesn’t feel like work."

They needed to make "beautifully produced", responsive content that was also shoppable. He cited Diageo’s TheBar.co.uk as an example of content marketing that made a consumer feel more like Don Draper than a shopper.

He said: "We think the connected shopper represents a bigger opportunity than most people realise and less of a threat than they think they do.

"How connected our industry comes will determine the sustainability of its value proposition. If over the next decade we get it right, we will potentially grow the industry in a way it isn’t now. If we can make shopping feel less like shopping then we can grow our industry greater.

"If we’re not focussed on connectivity and values I think it’s self evident that we’ll end up in a cycle of aggressive discounting and I don’t think that suits any of us."