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    Meet the ‘Goldilocks Shopper’: How ‘Just Right’ Omnichannel Experiences Can Help Brands

    8 minute read
    Meet the ‘Goldilocks Shopper’: How ‘Just Right’ Omnichannel Experiences Can Help Brands

    In the famous fairytale, Goldilocks doesn’t want just any porridge. Instead, she wants a bowl that’s “just right” — not too hot, not too cold.

    For our thieving protagonist, the experience matters more than the item.

    While all three bowls of porridge in the story contain identical ingredients, their temperature changes the experience and the enjoyment of each.

    Porridge that’s too cold isn’t worth eating, while porridge that’s too hot can’t be eaten.

    A similar situation is happening across the consumer buying journey. Consumers are no longer willing to accept the too-cold concept of brick-and-mortar stores that offer limited engagement and options, and they aren’t interested in the too-hot approach of all-online shopping that can quickly overwhelm them with choices.

    Now, customers are looking for a just-right mix of in-store and online shopping that lets them get what they want, how and when they want it. For brands, the moral of the story is simple: Omnichannel experiences are the way to grab — and keep — the attention of Goldilocks-like shoppers.

    But what does this look like in practice? Here’s a look at the basics of Goldilocks shopping, what defines a Goldilocks shopper, and how brands can best meet these shoppers’ needs.

    What Is the Goldilocks Shopping Zone?

    According to the “2024 Salsify Consumer Research” report, the Goldilocks shopping zone is “a blend of the convenience of online shopping with the tangible and immersive aspects of brick-and-mortar retail.” In other words, it combines the free-form elements of digital storefronts with the more structured designs of physical retail.

    Three characteristics define the Goldilocks shopping zone.

    1. Accessibility

    Consumers don’t want to wait. Instead, they want access to product details on-demand. This preference has led to a shift in buying behavior: While 29% of buyers say they prefer to shop entirely online and 22% say they opt for in-store, 49% choose a mix of in-person and digital shopping.

    As a result, brands need to ensure that products and product content are easily accessible to buyers no matter where they are.

    Consider that 54% of customers have used their smartphones to research products online while they’re in brick-and-mortar stores. Put simply? Customers want information ASAP, and brands need to deliver.

    2. Connectivity

    Connectivity is another key element in the Goldilocks zone. In practice, connectivity takes two forms: The ability of buyers to connect with brands using the channel of their choice — such as email, social media, or phone calls — and the availability of in-store staff to answer consumer questions and form an in-person connection.

    3. Personalization

    Customers aren’t interested in being just another sale. Instead, they want brands to value their business and take action to keep them happy. In practice, this means providing improved and expanded personalization across the entire buying journey.

    This personalization may include tailored email or text messages based on past purchases or potential future needs, or it may take the form of customized sales events or discounts that help buyers feel appreciated.
    Brands can also combine in-store and online personalization by offering digital coupons that can be redeemed in person — or vice-versa.

    What Is a Goldilocks Shopper?

    Goldilocks shoppers are looking for the “just right” mix of online and in-store shopping. Just like the famous porridge pilferer, they’re picky — if brands offer too much or too little of any shopping experience, these customers will look for alternatives.

    For Goldilocks shoppers, two components are critical in a just right experience: Convenience and immersion.

    Convenience is the ability to get what they want, when they want it, and is typically the province of online sales. Buyers can search and find products on demand and order them with a single click. Immersion, meanwhile, happens in-store.

    Consider clothing as an example. While customers can conveniently access massive amounts of product information online, there’s no substitute for trying items on in person.

    Providing both options to buyers — in-depth online resources and exceptional in-store experiences — is critical to capturing Goldilocks shoppers.

    Worth noting? What qualifies as “just right” varies from shopper to shopper. As a result, omnichannel experiences are critical. By giving buyers a wide range of connection and information options to choose from, brands set themselves up for success.

    How Can Brands Best Meet These Shoppers’ Needs?

    For brands, the emergence of Goldilocks shopping creates both challenges and opportunities. For example, these just-right shoppers have high expectations and won’t waste time with brands that don’t meet their needs.

    If retailers can find the sweet spot, however, they can build reciprocal relationships with these customers that boost business reputation and help drive steady sales.

    While there’s no single solution to the porridge purchase paradigm, there are steps that brands can take to better meet these shoppers’ needs.

    Meeting Consumers Where They Are

    Customers don’t have the time — or the desire — to chase down brands. As a result, retailers that offer limited contact or interaction options will quickly find themselves left behind.

    A truly omnichannel approach helps companies meet customers where they are. Consider that 55% of consumers highlight great shopping experiences as the reason for their brand loyalty, while 81% speak to product quality.

    Providing high-quality product content across all physical and digital touchpoints makes it possible for brands to cast a wider net for customer loyalty.

    Building Better Product Pages

    According to the Salsify report, 23% of customers have used mobile devices to purchase a product online while shopping in-store.

    This speaks to the power of effective product pages: If brands can offer value-added content such as videos, FAQs, reviews, and answers to customer questions, they can capture consumer purchases even when customers can buy items directly in-store. 

    Staying Ahead of the Game

    Customer expectations are constantly evolving. Today, buyers want speedy responses to social media messages and emails. Soon, they’ll leverage tools like artificial intelligence (AI) in ecommerce to find deals online and improve product recommendations.

    The result? Omnichannel isn’t a fixed endpoint. Instead, brands need to keep an eye on emerging trends to ensure they don’t get left behind.

    Keeping Costs in Mind

    While enhanced experiences, on-demand content, and crossovers between online and physical shopping all play a role in capturing Goldilocks shoppers, price still has a powerful impact on customer behavior.

    Consider that over the past year, 39% of buyers have started prioritizing budget-friendly purchase options. This is the top reason shoppers avoid completing purchases online: They’re worried about spending too much.

    As a result, great content and omnichannel experiences only go so far in getting Goldilocks shoppers onboard — price remains a powerful force.

    Getting In the Zone

    The ‘Goldilocks Zone’ combines digital and physical shopping components to deliver a “just right” experience in the consumer buying journey.

    But this experience is different for every potential purchaser. As a result, brands looking to get the most Goldilocks buyers to complete online checkouts and buy products in-store need to adopt an omnichannel approach that meets customers wherever, whenever, and however is just right for them.

    2024 Salsify Consumer Research Report

    Download the latest consumer report to learn more about how to meet shoppers in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of shopping — and discover the latest insights for the modern buying journey.


    Written by: Doug Bonderud

    Doug Bonderud (he/him) is an award-winning writer with expertise in ecommerce, customer experience, and the human condition. His ability to create readable, relatable articles is second to none.

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    2024 Salsify Consumer Research Report Download the latest consumer report to learn more about how to meet shoppers in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of shopping — and discover the latest insights for the modern buying journey. DOWNLOAD NOW