Bricks and mortar stores must adapt to the needs of the modern digital consumer, new report reveals

Bricks and mortar stores that fail to adapt to consumers’ desires for digital experiences will be left behind, according to new research by global provider of unified commerce solutions, PCMS.

Original research in Navigating Modern Retail, which polled 2,000 UK consumers, found that demand for shopping via digital devices has migrated from online into the physical store, with nearly 60% saying they use their own smartphone, tablet or the store’s device while shopping – rising to as many as 80% of under 45s.  As well as using mobile or tablets instore, a further 15% choose to use digital signage, digital kiosks or interactive screens.

Self-checkouts are a popular option with nearly 30% choosing to scan their own products and a further 10% using self-scan devices, suggesting independence, speed and convenience are key requirements in connected shopper journeys. When it comes to self-service and independent instore encounters, 18-24s are the most likely self-scan or check out (42%).

When it comes to conducting research ahead of purchase, ‘research on the move’ is becoming increasingly common – smartphones (46%) are the lead research device, with a further 29% using a tablet. 42% of consumers use a laptop, while a quarter use a desktop.  This demonstrates the need for product feeds to be optimised across all channels to ensure a smooth omnichannel journey.

One thing for retailers to consider is that research undertaken online ahead of purchase varies depending on the product category, with more complex or high consideration products and those where design and personal taste are factors are most likely to be researched online.

Where complex products are concerned, nearly three quarters of consumers turn to the internet when buying electrical goods, closely followed by mobile phone purchase (55%) and DIY (43%). Similarly, when shopping for furniture 55% undertook research online, and 43% for homewear. The same was true for fashion and apparel (44%), footwear (40%) and health and beauty products (31%).

However, increasingly, even everyday items are becoming omni-researched, with 21% saying they research groceries (food and drink) online before they buy.

Steve Powell, Director of Sales at PCMS, commented: “One thing is clear is that mobile and tablets are not just transforming consumers’ online habits but are influencing the entire omnichannel journey, as shoppers access product information through multiple channels and multiple platforms often simultaneously.

“Certainly, use of digital instore is not something that should be ignored – 70% of respondents said their use of a digital device whilst visiting a store would remain the same in the next six months, whilst  a further 36% said they believed it would increase over the next 18 months.

“This actually represents a huge opportunity for retailers who are looking to digitalise the instore experience by marrying the demand for online with traditional customer service. Giving store associates tablets for example, allows them to instantly access product information and answer customer questions at the touch of a button, while creating that ‘human experience’ that will encourage consumers to return again and again.”

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