Ignore shopper's demands at your peril, says Cable&Wireless Worldwide

Shoppers are increasingly impatient and want a 'rapid retailing' experience, independent research commissioned by Cable&Wireless Worldwide (CWW) has revealed.  Driven in part by the instant nature of digital technology and proliferation of mobile devices, consumers expect instant access to product information and to move effortlessly between retail channels (mobile, website, in-store etc). They also want stock immediately or very short delivery times.  CWW claims that retailers need to embrace these trends and transform the in-store customer experience in order to remain relevant to the shopper of tomorrow.

The survey shows that price continues to be important for shoppers more than half say cheap prices are their number one priority when choosing a retailer.  However, buying behaviour is increasingly shaped by convenience and speed.  For example, 40% rank 'items in stock' as the most important criteria for shopping in-store and a third (30%) of people use their mobile phone while in-store to speed up their buying decisions, by reading product reviews and so on.

The desire for a rapid experience is further underscored by a lack of tolerance for slow websites nearly half (46%) of online shoppers will switch to another retailer's website if they experience a 30 second delay.  Expectations continue to be high when it comes to speed of delivery, with three quarters of consumers expecting deliveries to arrive within two days of order.

Diane McAuliffe, Director Retail, Leisure and Logistics, Cable&Wireless Worldwide said, "Retailers are operating in a world where speed and convenience are determining shopper behaviour.  It's a big shift and retailers that want to remain competitive must adapt and provide a 'rapid retailing' experience.  If people want to use their phones in-store to find online reviews, then retailers should help them by providing wi-fi and a mobile-optimised website.  It helps forge deeper relationships with customers and allows the retailers to offer personalised in-store offers.  Once a customer is in a shop, the key is to provide them with the most informed, convenient and fast shopping experience possible."

Encouragingly, the research indicates that once in a shop, consumers are willing to pay a price premium for convenience and speed.  More than half would need to save 10% or more to prompt a purchase from another store.  Similarly, one fifth will pay a 10% premium to have the goods immediately, rather than buy cheaper online and wait for delivery.

From an analysis of the research data, CWW has identified key characteristics of the shopper of tomorrow, and has provided insight into how retailers should respond:

  • Shoppers will expect improving levels of customer service across channels: Retailers must deliver a real-time, personalised and seamless experience across multiple shopping channels. For example, they should provide shoppers with direct access to information about store-specific stock levels so they can make choices about which channel to use and which store to visit.
  • Consumers will increasingly rely on technology (personal and in-store): Online shopping systems must be easy-to-use, intuitive, personalised and highly responsive, irrespective of channel.  The provision of web-enabled tills and internet kiosks enhance the shopping experience by allowing customers to track store-specific stock levels or order out-of-stock items for home delivery.
  • Customers will require shorter and shorter delivery times: Retailers need a highly efficient supply and distribution chain with 100% in-stock availability and same day delivery becoming the norm.
  • Shoppers will need new reasons to spend more time in-store: Retailers must be creative in making the in-store shopping more experiential and unique.  For example, retailer-supplied wi-fi will enable retailers to engage with customers whilst in-store, targeting them with relevant offers and personalising the shopping experience.

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