The next phase of group shopping

August 30, 2011

Retailers can win if they personalize and localize group-shopping events to make people feel better.

Group shopping is due for a transformation – and retailers that cultivate this behavior in their stores and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare) have a good chance to gain disproportionately.

The reason change is coming is entirely human – people want more personal contact, and they use technology as the bridge. Retailers that facilitate more interactions – with good product information (not just words, but pictures and video clips), customer reviews and trends discussions, plus coupons and savings events – could build significant traffic.

Our vision at The Lempert Report differs from Groupon, Dealon and similar sites, which motivate consumers to buy specific offers, yet don’t go so far as to unite the buyers. We think food retailers could unite shoppers, actually bring them together in the same physical space, and help them feel better and somewhat stress-relieved by the excitement of shopping events with a local and personal touch. It would take skillful use of social media – which they could learn from food trucks that Twitter their upcoming times and locations to build crowds, and from San Francisco underground food operators that do the same. 

We think the next phase of group shopping will be to organize events where people have a common purpose and come to one store at the same time. Think of these as scalable opportunities – dinner parties, charity events, community-wide awards picnics for student-athletes – with baskets that could rival those of warehouse clubs. Indeed, households have coupled up to shop together more to share savings since the recession began.  

This will be the new face of group shopping – one where people feel surrounded by others in a good way, and empowered to ask retailers for discounts because of the larger numbers of shoppers they bring in.