Retail has undergone tremendous change in recent years. Because of the increasing digitisation, the demands of customers have changed immensely. It is clear to see that times are changing – and consumers are too. This is also reflected in the fact that by now 87 percent of consumers in most brick-and-mortar shops expect the offer of digital services. The associated changes in purchasing behaviour are particularly noticeable in the retail sector. Young consumers in particular no longer want to distinguish between online and offline – they of course use all available channels for purchasing.
Purchasing behaviour: Online vs. offline
To be able to forecast future buying behaviour, the status quo must first be reflected upon. How popular now are stationary and online retailing among consumers? And what are the reasons for each preference?
According to the study “Shopping Worlds 2017″ by Teambank, almost 100 percent of consumers under the age of fifty prefer online shopping. For consumers between the age of fifty and retirement age, over 80 percent here are also using online shops.
Besides good accessibility, online retail scores well with a large selection of goods, detailed product information and a variety of payment options. Then again, customers are annoyed here mostly by excessive shipping costs and unavailable goods.
In the brick-and-mortar shop, many consumers find the occasionally long waiting times at the checkout or goods collection as rather inconvenient. On the other hand, stationary retailers are clearly ahead in terms of customer service, product presentation and clear arrangement of salesrooms. Traditional retail is also ahead surprisingly clearly in terms of payment processes. Customers thus feel more comfortable in stationary shops with the actual purchase apropos data security, the payment itself, information on financing options and with price transparency.
And which goods do customers prefer online and offline?
The Germans love to shop around – and not just online. A study from COMARCH examines the future of retail and customer expectations, highlighting that brick-and-mortar retailing is mainly chosen for furniture and decoration (75%), cosmetics (74%), and tools and DIY materials (70%) as the preferred channel. In the product groups of household goods (41%), TV and Hi-Fi (41%), as well as clothing (36%), German consumers also like to turn towards various online shops.
In addition, shopping behaviour also depends on the age of the consumer. The younger a customer is, the more open they are to online shopping and other digital services. The most active online shoppers are middle-aged individuals, whereas with increasing age the preference for in-store retail significantly increases.
Purchasing behaviour: How does the future look?
Nearly 80 percent of consumers expect the number of traditional shops to decline by 2030. Consumers see digitisation as the major factor in this. As a result, traditional retail will (have to) change fundamentally over the next few years. Currently, the proportion of online retailers continues to increase and eCommerce sales in Germany will rise to about 77 billion euros by the year 2020, according to a forecast.
Additionally, one quarter of retailers fear a decline in traditional retail sales over the next five years. This, however, provides for a greater awareness of modernisation processes in the retail sector. Almost half of all surveyed retailers have already outfitted themselves with the introduction of a digitisation strategy. Almost 20 percent are currently working on the planning of such a strategy. Here, too, it is once again clear that progressive digitisation has an enormous influence on retail and that it is time for these to begin with implementing a digitisation strategy. Only in this way can a company remain competitive and achieve long-term success.
The future speaks clearly for omnichannel
Today’s consumers use different channels in parallel due to the wide range of information available. From retail shops to product catalogs and web shops, to online marketplaces or mobile shopping apps. Now it is down to companies to serve up parallel sales channels tailored to the target group. Against a background of dynamic and global markets, as well as heterogeneous target groups, the use of new strategies for companies is becoming increasingly important in keeping pace with increasing competition. Meanwhile, this is no longer achieved by the sole integration of an online shop. Instead, it is important to develop a well-thought-out omnichannel strategy and to implement this into everyday business. Previously, in our article “Omnichannel strategies”, you have learned how to achieve higher profits through such strategies.
So far, only 35% of retailers have recognised the potential of this distribution channel. In comparison, more than half of the providers still sell via brick-and-mortar shops alone and 11% exclusively through online shops, namely without the use of additional sales channels.
Every beginning is difficult, and the development of an omnichannel strategy takes time and effort. Many retailers now face the challenge of finding a balance between stationary and online sales and also of offering an appealing buying experience. But do not let that unsettle you. If you can deal with the future demands of your consumers and adjust them immediately, you can secure long-term success in highly competitive retail.
Also, never lose sight of your competitors opening up new sales channels. The knowledge of essential factors here, such as the pricing and assortment design of your competition, is of enormous importance. This is exactly where our competitor monitoring tool blackbee will support you.With this highly automated, self-learning software you receive up-to-date market data and thus always remain one step ahead of your competitors.
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