Apr 25, 2019 | By Katarina Kovacevic

Weaving shopper’s delight into direct to consumer strategies

By: Balint Szeplaki
Head of Product


As the industry gets more competitive, retail brands are turning to new tactics to cultivate longer lasting and loyal relationships with their customers. This means directly affecting and communicating with consumers on a more personal and emotional level.

Retailers now have to create delight not just through their products but through the overall shopping experience. This blog looks at the direct to consumer (D2C) trend through the lens of creating delight throughout the shopping experience and how native apps can be the perfect tool for delight generation.


The science behind delight

The strategy for creating delight can be broken down into three approaches; Pleasure, Flow, and Meaning. In her quest to remove user-frustration in product design, pioneer of civic design, Dana Chisnell, distilled creating delight into three distinct concepts:

  • Pleasure – paying close attention to your customers’ needs and keep satisfying them.
  • Flow – removing obstacles and distractions from your customers’ journey.
  • Meaning – creating lasting relationships that go beyond the transactional.

We’re taking a look at how these three approaches apply to the retail industry and, more specifically, native apps.


😎 Pleasure

Pleasure means building an enjoyable and positively interactive environment by being hyper aware of the consumer’s wants and needs. In the physical retail space, providing pleasure could mean, playing exciting music to keep customers energised, diffusing pleasant smells to deliver an aromatic sense of tranquility, or greeting customers with happy sales reps to provide amiable, unintrusive assistance. However, due to the fact that we live in a mobile-first economy, current D2C brands understand that mobile is central to the D2C experience. So, these moments of pleasure need to replicated on mobile. Native apps provide the perfect interface for engendering pleasure during the online user experience.

Unlike mobile web and Progressive Web Apps, native apps can utilise native code to create sensorially appealing interactions that generate pleasure during the shopper’s journey. Features such as haptic feedback and animations, built on the principles of providing sensory appeal, give users bursts of pleasure associated with achievement and success. The act of adding an item to cart is greeted with a flashy animation and a buzz from the device, assuring the user that they have done something successfully. These small bursts of pleasure make interactions with the app increasingly exciting.


🔄 Flow

Flow means building a truly usable environment that provides the user or consumer with a sense of empowerment and ease. When shopping in brick and mortar stores, consumers expect to be able to find what they want easily and, more often than not, quickly. In discount department stores such as TK/J Maxx or Marshalls where bargain hunting can be an all-afternoon warzone, consumers want organised chaos in the form of well designed store sections. In basic department stores such as Bloomingdales, John Lewis, or House of Fraser, consumers benefit from having all of their desired items in one place for killing multiple birds with one store visit, e.g. bedding, bath, clothing, electronics, and more.

Other larger department stores such as Walmart or Target, offer item pick up from the parking lot. Dubbed the ‘Five-Minute Shopping Trip’ by Forbes, upon arrival, a sales associate delivers your order directly to your car. Consumers will often order items through their phones and will be notified through the retailer’s app when the items are ready for pick up, making the five-minute shopping trip a powerful example of bridging the gap between online and store to provide hyper-optimised flow.

In the case of other retail types, such as brands, consumers often pop in on a quick lunch break knowing exactly what trainers / sneakers or articles of clothing they want. In this case, the consumer is on a direct mission to get in and get out. However, in both of these circumstances and more, the job of the retailer is to make the shopping experience seamless and easy. Consumers have a task they want to complete and retailers need to remove as much friction as possible from the achievement of said task.

In the case of other retail types, such as brands, consumers often pop in on a quick lunch break knowing exactly what trainers / sneakers or articles of clothing they want. In this case, the consumer is on a direct mission to get in and get out. However, in both of these circumstances and more, the job of the retailer is to make the shopping experience seamless and easy. Consumers have a task they want to complete and retailers need to remove as much friction as possible from the achievement of said task.

That job remains the same on mobile. Companies like Amazon and Asos have pioneered the flow approach with features such as two-tap checkout and same/one-day delivery. As more retailers are realising the importance of flow, many are investing in native apps due to their innate capabilities of providing a smooth user experience.

According to IAB, the D2C trend is all about building a two-way relationship and a one-way impression on the consumer. What is important with flow is that the consumer feels as though he or she is left with an impression of that was quick and easy following a series of interactions with the retailer. In physical stores, retailers hope to achieve conversion rate optimisation (CRO) through well thought-out display methods, multiple checkout tills, impulse buying tactics, and more. On apps, features such as native gestures, predictive search, Apple Pay, recommendations, push notifications and more can all leave an impression of seamlessness. Apple Pay especially removes vast amounts of friction during the checkout process while improving conversion rate due to its simplicity and minimal time consumption.

While Apple Pay reduces friction during checkout, push notifications are the ultimate D2C ‘two-way relationship, one-way impression’ tool. The feature provides users with a quick and easy way to access and engage with their apps. Through their hyper personalised and deep linking capabilities, retailers can provide users with immediate access to an item forgotten in the basket or a shirt which may not have been desired until the appearance of a deep-linked ‘Just added’ push notification.

For more information on the power of push notifications, be sure to read “Enhance your omnichannel marketing with Poq’s new push layer”.


❤️ Meaning

Meaning is about giving users and consumers a rewarding and connective experience. In essence, it is a retailer expressing the convictions it stands for and the rallying of consumers to join the community of those convictions. Meaning goes beyond physical and online stores and transcends the entire brand across all channels. Moreover, the meaning approach is the focal point for building loyalty and brand association. While pleasure and flow can encourage loyalty and long-lasting relationships, meaning is the solidifier of brand attachment.

To convey meaning, retailers practice story-telling in the form of marketing communications, advertisements, partnerships, and more. Retailers can build meaning in a number of ways. For example, they can align themselves with important issues of the time e.g. climate change, set up partnerships with charities or celebrities, solve prevailing customer needs, become specialists in certain retail areas e.g. wedding, be known for special services, and more. A multitude of channels are used to create meaning, however, what matters is how much retailers are aware of that meaning is being of mutual or of greater value for their consumers.

For example, a company called Reformation, well known for its beautiful and comfortable dresses, built up a large customer base because of its sustainable practices. It was one of the first fast fashion brands to disrupt the industry with environmentally focused messaging and use it to garner success. On each product display page, they show the amount of carbon dioxide, water, and waste were saved in the manufacturing of that single product. As a result, Reformation has gained traction amongst its shoppers due to the meaning it has generated.

Another powerful example of engendering meaning is through celebrity associations. More often than not, consumers build affinities for celebrities based on the individual’s achievements, accolades, and cultural bonds. And this type of connectedness has been augmented through our social media habits. Celebrities have hundreds of thousands and even millions of followers, providing them with a platform unlike any other upon which to promote their story. And should a retailer successfully partner with that story it will see major success. M&S a popular UK brand partnered with TV personality Holly Willoughy which led to the store hitting record sales and having to restock the ‘Holly Must Have’ items every two seconds.

Native apps provide a unique opportunity for presenting meaning with the ability to bring content, lifestyle, and shopping all into one place. When multiple retailers are fighting for the attention of similar consumers they need ways of making their meaning stand out and native apps provide that disruptive platform. With features such as stories, retailers can literally tell visually appealing stories to their customers that can be shoppable. Native apps can also bring important blog content to the users through interactive content blocks that allow users to experience written brand content on a more intimate and personalised platform. When building D2C strategies and relationships, the development and dissemination of meaning will separate the winning retailers from the losers.


Sometimes flow can become meaning

It is important to note that many digital first retailers such as Asos, Zalando and Amazon, as well as large scale department stores such as Target and Walmart and bargain stores such as the aforementioned TK Maxx and Marshalls, have developed meaning through flow. They derive meaning from the fact that they can solve the prevailing customer need of speed and convenience. The likes of Asos can provide one-day or even same-day delivery to a multitude of customers, while stores like Target and Walmart are perfectly designed and stocked with anything and everything a customer could want at an affordable cost. They have built meaning through a community of like minded individuals who need to get their shopping done as quickly and easily as possible at the lowest cost possible. Their shoppers are a community of I got this item at an amazing price and in amazing speed. You have to go there too. They are connected through their flow experience.


Be a retail winner

As the retail industry grows, it is only becoming more and more competitive and winning retailers are choosing the direct to consumer route. By implementing D2C strategies in physical stores and using native apps through the lens of Pleasure, Flow, and Meaning approaches, consumers will build strong brand attachments that will turn into loyalty and long CLTVs.

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