The times “are a-changing”, as Bob Dylan once sang. Retail industry bible The Grocer reports that, bouyed by the success of their ‘click-and-collect’ services, supermarkets are looking at extending this sales channel to non-food items. The publication suggests this could herald the dawn of the grocery drive-thru.
The implications for brands are significant. If there is a steady move away from in-store shopping towards click-and-collect, product packaging may need to be adjusted. Implicit in packaging design currently is the combination of front of pack short-cuts with more detail on the side and back of pack for those who want to know more. If you are not physically seeing the product and picking it up, you will not have access to this greater detail, the absence of which could influence your choice of brand.
Big-name brands (e.g. Kit Kats, Whiskas, Tiger beer) might not need to worry as they can continue to rely on strong brand recognition to shift units. However, transfer this to a pro-biotic yogurt or a cholesterol-reducing low fat spread, where the choice may require more active thought, then the way the product is presented online versus on-shelf may well impact on how people shop in these categories.
More often than not, all you get is a picture of the front of pack. The lack of product shots is a missed opportunity when you are dealing with consumers conditioned by Amazon and eBay shopping to expect photographs of every single product component from every conceivable angle. We constantly hear from consumers that they like see-through packaging because they like to see what they buy. And often clients can’t deliver that because of the cost and technological constraints of making that sort of pack. Online they could do it every single time. Yet few do.
And then there’s the unpredictable way products are described. A search of salad dressings produces this enticing product description for a Mary Berry product : “While every care has been taken to ensure this information is correct, food products are constantly being reformulated and nutrition content may change. We would therefore recommend that you do not rely solely on this information and always check products labels.”
So brands will need to give active consideration to how their products are being represented in the online shopping environment (size of the image, product details, juxtapositions) as new rules will emerge about how consumers’ respond to new brands or even brand extensions.