What Merchants Need to Know About Discovery Shopping
This blog was contributed by Sree Menon, who leads global strategy and operations at Tophatter. Tophatter is the world’s fastest, most entertaining mobile shopping marketplace.
Amazon has built an empire on intent-based, search-driven shopping. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the company recently announced it reached 100 million Prime users. It comes as no surprise that many big-box stores and malls are scrambling to compete.
Of course, not all brick-and-mortar stores are failing. There is even a small sector that is still thriving: discovery retailers. These stores — the likes of TJX, Ross, dollar stores, etc. — provide something different than what Amazon can offer. They offer shopping as a pastime, as entertainment. They provide the opportunity for discovery shopping.
What is discovery shopping?
Discovery retail is about the act of browsing. It’s about not knowing what you are looking for until you find something you never knew you wanted. This spontaneous consumption historically makes up about 50% of the retail market. But it gets much less airtime than its utilitarian shopping counterpart.
Some look at these two sectors of retail as the difference between buying and shopping. In other words, buying is about the transaction whereas shopping is about the experience.
Translating discovery for the mobile experience
Consumers are now spending five hours a day on their phones. Clearly, everyone and everything is shifting to mobile. But the existing discovery stores are not innovating. And as a result, they’re struggling to evolve their physical experience to a mobile one. But this does not mean that discovery does not work on mobile, quite the opposite.
Purpose-built discovery shopping platforms thrive there. Discovery shopping already fits with consumer mobile habits. Brands can replicate the feel of scrolling through social media with discovery formats. And then can make it even better with the extra thrill of buying something.
What does this mean for merchants?
Discovery shopping offers big opportunities for sellers across many different categories. But selling in discovery marketplaces has different value propositions than utilitarian shopping platforms.
Products are not found through queries from the shopper. This means the marketplace must personalize the experience to be engaging for each shopper. Discovery offers several benefits for merchants:
Products don’t need huge ad spends.
Many marketplaces are full to burst with products. And sellers feel obligated to spend a lot on advertising to ensure their products rise to the top. But discovery marketplaces are designed for shopper exploration. And the merchandising is highly personalized by the retailer. So shoppers can see products without these spends.
Inventory can move fast.
Retailers can sell the right products quickly. Consumers are spending time in discovery platforms, not trying to save it. They are browsing for new home decor or fashion accessories. They are buying gifts for friends and family. Or they’re treating themselves to products they see as a deal. So the right item at the right price point can move fast in a discovery model.
Brand names are not king.
Discovery shoppers are often drawn to the treasure hunt mentality of finding products. They value deals over brand names. Thus, merchants can invest in unbranded inventory with higher margins.
With the death of the mall, shopping as a pastime is evolving for the mobile experience. And the discovery shopping market is ripe with opportunities to quickly and cost-effectively sell. The value propositions and sales cycle may be different than utilitarian marketplaces. But still, the opportunities are endless.