The emergence of Virtual Shopping and the Virtual shelf in recent years has revolutionised the way retailers and brand owners undertake their shopper market research – we take a quick look at this growing development.
When you walk into a store, you may not know it but the shelves are communicating with you. They tell a rich story about everything about the store and its customers; from the packaging design and price points of products, to the way the items are organised on the shelves. Have you ever wondered what goes into the arrangement of consumer goods within a retail store? It shouldn’t come as a major surprise, but companies devote significant thought and research into the presentation of a product – ultimately with the aim of telling customers a story that compels them to buy. Both Virtual Shopping and the Virtual shelf have helped to revolutionise this process.
Brand owners face numerous challenges when getting their products listed and in particular the need to understand their market and their competitors and how their brands are seen in order ensure their sales can be optimised. There are many questions that brands will need to address, such as; “How much are customers willing to pay for this product in comparison to the other items on the shelf?” and “What colours and graphics on a package best represent ‘healthy living’?” and “In what section of the store would this product perform best?”. “Virtual shelf” technology plays a vital role in answering such questions. This technology enables market researchers to harvest consumer insights to determine what stands out as something they would consider purchasing, without having to bring them into a physical store.
So, what is a “virtual shelf”? A virtual shelf (or 3D Planogram) is an online environment where consumers can “shop” for products in a fully customizable virtual retail store. Shoppers can select products by clicking on them with a mouse, zooming in for more details, and scrolling to browse across the shelf – and can be found in Vision One’s pack testing tool PackProbe. This online scenario enables researchers to observe shopping behaviour in a virtual world and link key behaviours and attitudes to more accurately predict shopper behaviour.
Shopper insights show that shopping decisions are complex. Consumers will typically weigh up numerous factors (brand name & product, price, packaging, location on shelf, etc.) into that purchase decision. In fact, as many as 70 percent of purchase decisions are actually made at the shelf, as opposed to being predetermined.
This Virtual Shopping article by the Harvard Business Review provides an excellent explanation of Virtual Shopping and the Virtual shelf – how it came about, its benefits and some interesting case studies.