The Hershey Company

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Redefining 'Search' in a Total Commerce World Whether in store, online or on mobile, retailers and brands must make it seamless for shoppers to find what they want.

The Hershey Company

When it comes to consumer goods, shopping online and offline are no longer parallel lines. Or even converging lines. More and more, they overlap. And in the very near future, they will become almost indistinguishable.

Retailers who attract, engage and convince people to shop their "total commerce ecosystem" will find that those people become six times more valuable.

The question for retailers is, "How do I do that?" The answer is to harness the power of consumer search. Show up when, where and how people are shopping. Make it easy and engaging for them to find what they're looking for. Make your shopper the hero of the search because in the end, it's the shopper's world and we're just living in it.

Success in this modern retail reality requires thinking about search in broad, new ways. Search isn't just a digital commerce concept…it's fundamental to both physical and digital shopping.

As part of The Hershey Company's ongoing effort to redefine and deepen relationships with its retail partners, it is creating a new vision for a total commerce approach to snacks shopping. The chocolate-maker and snacking powerhouse shares its search-centered vision in its recently released "In a Shopper's World' retail report.

In it, Hershey underscores the need for bricks and clicks to collaborate. Retailers' and manufacturers' in-store and digital teams must be highly integrated because shoppers do not distinguish between the shopping platforms. Instead, shoppers see a single enterprise. So a retailer either makes it easy and fun, or shoppers take their business elsewhere.

"Consumers don't differentiate between buying online or off," says Douglas C. Straton, formerly of Unilever and now The Hershey Company"s chief digital commerce officer. "Put simply, they're either buying at your store or they're not. It's all the same to them."

Converting shoppers requires retailers to create a retail experience in which items can be found quickly and conveniently, no matter the platform.

Search made simple is as essential in store using merchandising as it is online or on mobile.

Image credit: The Hershey Company

In addition to simplifying search and amplifying convenience, retailers must provide an experience that compels the shopper to visit time and time again. This means providing visceral, memorable experiences, while compelling online content can be as simple as recipes or funny GIFs.

"Our goal is to wow shoppers at every touchpoint, through our brands and the experiences we build," explains Phil Stanley, vice president, Customer & Category Development at The Hershey Company.

Image credit: The Hershey Company

The "wow development team" at Hershey's Global Customer Innovation Center (GCIC) is reinventing the snacks shopping experience. The team has created a fictitious store called Medley, a retailer that understands the truth that engaging experiences and convenience—not pricing—drive loyalty. Medley creates the ideal blend of physical, digital and social interactions, reflecting the varied demands of the changing shopper.

According to Brian Kavanagh, senior director, Retail Evolution at The Hershey Company, "Medley is an example of what the future might look like if there were no rules, if there was nothing holding us back. It reveals just how inspiring shopping can be, given the technology of today and what's on the horizon."

Image credit: The Hershey Company

How inspiring can shopping be? And how can the tentacles of these seemingly separate shopping experiences become intertwined? Hershey's "In a Shopper's World' retail report shares some examples:

• A student, cramming for exams, sees a GIF of a dancing REESE'S cup. But it's not just cruel temptation. By simply tapping the image, the student opens his Medley app and orders a two-pack of REESE'S, which Medley delivers to his apartment.

• A mother is watching her daughter's softball game when she remembers she promised to bake treats for a class party. In her Facebook feed she finds a video recipe for "REESE'S Spiders" linked to her Medley shopping app. She clicks "add all ingredients to my Medley cart" and the app suggests she replace the pretzels in the recipe with gluten-free to meet her daughter's needs. This is followed by a reminder to schedule her choice of delivery or click-n-collect.

Image credit: The Hershey Company

As Straton says, "Content is king and data is its queen. Using data efficiently means you're not sending promotional content about beef to a vegan."

• Memories are made as customers make S'mores in an authentic "Northwoods campsite" smack in the middle of the store. As Medley shoppers share the fun with family and friends via social media, they're inspiring other shoppers passing by or seeing them over closed-circuit monitors scattered throughout the store. And they're making the memory last by picking up a take-home S'mores Adventure Kit.

It's a total commerce approach: Integrating the digital and physical in a holistic way that ensures consumer delight. The future of commerce is bright. Download Hershey's "In a Shopper's World' retail report, partner with Hershey's brand and retail experts and get building.