Unilever’s analysis of the transformation of shopping


With Robin Evanno, E-commerce Manage Unilever

Has the way you shop really changed in recent years?

Trade today is still largely in stores: in hypermarkets, in supermarkets, but indeed consumer trends have evolved extremely quickly in recent years, consumers have become accustomed to shopping on the Internet for objects, high-tech products, books, and so it has been transferred to food e-commerce on everyday shopping.

Why this evolution?

Because consumers today have less time, there are more small households so they may not go shopping in hypermarkets as much, they need convenience, too, and then they like to compare
offers, compare prices. So, all this means that consumers who used to go to hypermarkets yesterday prefer local stores, which are developing enormously today, or e-commerce and in this case the drive largely in France.

Your challenge in this race transformation?

I think today for most manufacturers and distributors, it is to have to face the development of omnicanality. The shopper yesterday was going either to hyper or super or proxi etc. We realize today that it is one and the same shopper, who, depending on the times of consumption and his needs will switch from one circuit to another. So, for brands and manufacturers, the big challenge is to be able to follow these consumers in their different moments of consumption, and to be able to offer them offers and promotions that are completely consistent with their profile and needs.

How are your issues different from the physical store on digital?

Our problems are different on 3 main points.
1- Frequency of purchase. We have a frequency of purchase on digital that is much lower than in physical stores. So the challenge on digital is already to work on this frequency of purchase, to make sure that our consumers want to come back to do their shopping and in particular to work for certain categories of impulse, which is not necessarily easy to work on digital.
2- Visibility. We have a major problem with the visibility and clarity of the information we post on the web. So, it’s a huge job to do on the digital which is perhaps more important than in stores to display the right information, display the right visuals of course and have something that makes sense for the consumer when he’s on the page.
3- Personalization. Thanks to the presence of Amazon, which imposes its codes a little bit, today we are obliged on digital to offer a course that is personalized to shoppers. This will probably be the case in the future in all circuits, but today on the digital market we have to start working on this customization and adapt the content we offer to shoppers according to their profile.