Thought leadership

According to a global survey from leading mobile advertising network, BuzzCity, there is a new wave of customers leading the way in 2014, with a new set of priorities and shopping methods. BuzzCity surveyed 13,000 consumers across 20 countries on their shopping habits from online and mobile to in–store, which revealed key trends in the way shoppers have adapted to digital commerce.

One of the key findings dispels fears that online shopping is to blame for the challenges met by high street retailers; the 59% of consumers who shop online also shop in-store.  Nearly half of consumers (47%) expect to do their holiday shopping online this year, but this does not adversely affect the number of people shopping in-store, with top destinations online and offline being Computers & Electronics, Books & Music and Clothing & Accessories.

It’s not a race to the bottom!

Contrary to popular belief, price is not the overall deciding factor. Whether shopping in-store or online, consumers look first for variety (33%); they then expect products to be well displayed and easy to find (32%). Discounts come in third place (24%) when shopping in-store and fifth place (14%) when shopping online. But the real challenge for in-store retailing comes from the alternatives that the connected consumer has that result in ‘abandoned’ shopping. Almost a third (32%) of shoppers surveyed has left the store because what they wanted was not available or discounted. This means that retailers need to be able to tell consumers what is sold out and the alternatives that are available, before they arrive. Sharing this type of information online and on the shop floor has become an important step in the evolution of retail.

All told, the experience of variety continues to drive choice of where to shop. Variety though, is not always about a dizzying array of products but rather a choice of products within a price range.

Connected Shoppers, Connected Shopping

The survey revealed that connected consumers are empowered with information; they demand variety but look for advice in final selections – while in-store they now get this by asking advice from friends or family members via their phones (29%). With customers more readily informed, the in-store environment needs to empower sales assistants to provide a consultative approach to customer enquiries, as a fifth (20%) of those surveyed said that they could find the information they wanted faster on their phone than asking a shop assistant.

16% of those surveyed also felt that they had a better experience in stores where shop assistants were using the latest technology to service customers.

Everyone can benefit

KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCity comments on the report findings: “This report is a reflection of how consumers are increasingly empowered by technology and using every channel available to make more informed choices at their own convenience. The end sale is no longer either in-store or online, but a combination of both experiences in the customer buying process. The use of mobile in shopping complements the in-store channel rather than threatens it, offering another sales platform to reach the customer both in-store and online.”

Online and in-store shopping are not separate business exercises, but need to be designed as complementary experiences to suit the consumers’ context. Many will continue shopping in-store. Some will shop online to collect at a store near home. Others will make mobile payments in-store for home delivery, completely avoiding check-out queues.

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