The UK consumer’s shopping habits have been evolving for some time now, and that includes a definitive shift online. It’s well documented that the younger the shopper, the more likely they are to shop via a website or an app. But now we have research that shows older shoppers are choosing to shop online in greater numbers too.
The recently commissioned Apadmi Retail Report discovered that over half (55%) of all shoppers preferred to shop online rather than in-store because they believe it is quicker and less hassle.
Typically, those born in the millennial age bracket are technologically savvy and are very likely to embrace any new online developments introduced by their favourite retailers – 75% of the 18-24 demographic said they would comfortably shop online.
But, whilst many prefer the online shopping option over going into a store, only 17% of those in our survey said they have used a retail app. So shoppers are clearly keen to use more convenient methods, but won’t go out of their way to use a retail app unless it offers a different customer experience than online, such as cashback or incentives unique to the app platform. 54% of our survey respondents echoed this sentiment, saying they wanted better incentives and loyalty schemes in their retail app.
The Black Friday shift
In Deloitte’s Retail Trends Report for 2016, the insight experts predicted a new era of consumer demand, where retailers successfully provide customers with fulfilled shopping demands and even use AI to predict other items they may be interested in. They predicted that 2016 would bring a truly omnichannel retail experience that unites both in-store and online, with a huge growth in web and app-based shopping.
This was echoed by the UK’s Black Friday 2016 statistics, where spending was up but footfall was down, and there was an overwhelming shift online – setting us apart from American shoppers.
Black Friday was a successful in-store shopping event in the UK for just a couple of years, peaking in 2015. Last year, the trend seems to be well and truly over. Whilst some larger retailers performed well, the results spoke for themselves as many shoppers decided to make their purchases online, rather than battle it out in a physical store environment.
Whilst Americans took to the streets and queued up for hours in-store to get themselves a bargain, in the UK we opted for a much more digital approach.
What does this mean for retailers?
The important takeaway for retailers from is that, although online shopping is growing in popularity, they could still be doing more through mobile apps to attract shoppers into physical stores. The online shift isn’t a bad thing for retailers; it’s a natural progression since the rise of the smartphone and social media and heralds the dawn of a host of new possibilities.
The knock-on effect of this, however, is that the instore experience has to offer something unique to drive customers’ behaviour and to ensure they actually have a motivation to visit a store’s location.
There are several things that retailers can be doing to ensure they connect with customers in the right way.
- Next day shipping
We live in an instant gratification culture, and with online brands like Amazon offering two-hour delivery in some cities, it is easier than ever before to order online and for it to arrive almost immediately, with simple returns. Free shipping and next day delivery options are becoming absolutely essential for retailers to compete with the retail giants like Amazon.
- A social media presence
There are lots of opportunities for tech to help retailers drive in-store footfall. Retailers that engage with customers on social media tend to do a lot better than those that have no social media presence.
Social media is so successful at connecting with potential customers that it’s practically unheard of for a customer facing business (or any company for that matter) to be invisible on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook.
- A unique in-store experience
This report does show that stores have to provide a unique customer journey in-store, otherwise, shoppers will decide to shop online rather than making the trip to the store.
This could be through an app that enhances the customer’s omnichannel shopping experience, or another tech development. 26% of customers surveyed in our Retail Report would like to see retailers adopt artificial intelligence to improve the shopping experience, and 33% want augmented reality in retail apps so they can preview products at home.
Whether it is unique, in-store deals, personal shopping, or a continuation of the omnichannel strategy, retailers need to provide customers with an experience that they can’t get anywhere else.
About this research
Apadmi commissioned a retail report that detailed the opinions of 2,000 shoppers from different demographics and locations in the UK.
You can download the full report below.