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How ‘WHEN do I need it’ is impacting the consumer buying journey.

Updated: Jun 7

When it comes to retail, the past two years have forced brands and consumers to reimagine the entire shopping experience. Click-culture has created a new generation of shoppers that want what they want, when and where they want it, changing expectations and defining the next age of retail.

While there are many drivers to purchase to consider in this new consumer journey, the idea of time, specifically “when I need something”, has emerged as the entry point for buying in 2022. Shopping in this new landscape is less about choosing whether to buy products online or in store and more about how shopping fits into consumers’ everyday lives and schedules.

Amazon has normalized the expectations of rapid delivery; however, the pandemic has hit us with a myriad of practical limitations such as supply chain delays and inconsistent in-store experiences. It has taught us to plan ahead with purchasing or fall reliant on high-fee services. This circumstance spans across industries including grocery, CPG, entertainment, and more. In fact, you’d have a hard time uncovering any industry that doesn’t have a relationship with time.

Today, they rely on businesses

Everything that consumers need now, they buy from brick-and-mortar stores close to their homes or via same-day delivery aggregators. Everything else, they buy for later-day delivery. They will filter their options of purchase through this lens of urgency when deciding where to buy. Based on the set of criteria and occasion, there becomes multiple shopper journeys for the same product.

In the future, they will rely on technology

We will see ‘time’ listed right alongside ‘price’ when filtering through goods. When consumers are searching for a new laptop, rather than filtering price low to high, they will also filter estimated time for delivery from low to high. Taking this one step further, if stores can reliably provide real-time data of in-store inventory, the lowest estimated time to acquire may equate to the time it would take the consumer to walk from their current location to the store and pick it up.

Let’s consider how the concept of time could reshape the foundational four P’s of marketing:

  • Product: Packages should be offered in a variety of sizes to accommodate all types of shoppers. Those who plan ahead will appreciate the long-term security that bulk sizing provides while those who purchase with more impulse can utilize smaller sizes to fulfill their short-term needs.

  • Price: Dynamic pricing offered for fast and slow shipping demands. Shopping experiences such as Amazon where you can opt for a quicker time with an accompanied price will become far more popular and widely utilized.

  • Placement: Your product’s availability should reflect situational usage. If it is typically an urgent or same-day usage purchase, having it in physical locations across the country would benefit those who buy ahead and pick up in store. If it is typically a planned purchase, online inventory may be all you need.

  • Promotion: Rapid availability becomes a leading selling point. The concept of filtering products by time could theoretically be incorporated with Google Shopping and the default setting on E-Commerce sites. Equipping your business to compete with top times will naturally inspire more shoppers.

What Businesses Can Do

Brands must recognize how their product relates to time and equip themselves to meet consumers where they are and on the channels that cater to their preferred method of shopping.

Brand to Watch

Future oriented brands like Nordstrom have a team of engineers integrating their online and in-store shopping into one fluid experience to remove a digital divide that often causes longer waiting times. The consumer should feel like they can check the shelves of their favourite store, observing exactly what is available, and grabbing what they want all within their living room.

Other brands such as HelloFresh work with the consumer to configure how often they will need the product and take care of all the planning on their behalf. We can expect tighter relationships between consumers and brands in the future where an exchange of data is rewarded with a frictionless buying experience. Both examples are just the beginning, however. New technologies will continue to disrupt shopping habits as we draw closer and closer to the consumers’ ideal of immediate gratification.

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