Over the years, our lives have become consumed by technology – the average person checks their phone 85 times a day, whilst millennials check a staggering 150 times. We live in a world where ‘digital technology’ is evolving at such a rapid pace, thus OnBuy.com, the UK online marketplace, sought to find out how technology has changed, and how it is impacting the retail industry.
What has changed in the retail sector?
Utilising a 2017 report by PWC, Onbuy.com looked at a survey of 24,471 respondents, from six continents and 29 territories, where they were asked about their shopping preferences, and how they have changed over the course of five years. OnBuy found that although in-store shopping is still the most popular among weekly and daily shoppers, the frequency of mobile shopping has overtaken tablet shopping, and is almost ready to overtake PC shopping.
If these PWC statistics are anything to go by, mobile shopping is set to overtake in-store shopping within the next five years.
To make in-store retail thrive once more, new technologies such as ‘augmented reality’ (AR) and ‘virtual reality’ (VR), are being adapted for use in the retail world. According to a recent study by KPMG, AR and VR are set to be ‘the next generation of disruption in the retail world’. In the near future, it is likely that customers will use AR and VR to explore products whilst browsing in-store.
OnBuy.com conducted their own survey of more than 1,500 respondents, aged between 18 and 40, regarding retail decisions made by consumers. OnBuy found that 54 per cent of consumers see themselves using mobiles more in the future to make the in-store experiences better and more meaningful. A further 73 per cent of consumers believe that retailers will have to keep up with new technology to improve their customer experience and retain customers.
For millennials, it is even more important to evolve and increase tech use, as a staggering six in ten (61 per cent) 25-to-34-year olds (millennials) find it easier to chat to stores via text, online chat or messenger apps, than go into store. Furthermore, half of millennials (52 per cent), when in a shop, would even prefer to seek information online, rather than ask an in-store shop assistant.
Onbuy.com also found that just under half of consumers (47 per cent) agree that they are more likely to buy from brands with stores that are different or interesting – and this increases to a staggering two thirds (65 per cent) for millennials.
What can companies do?
Utilising a report by KPMG, Onbuy.com concluded that businesses in retail must enhance the customer experience and make it more meaningful and personalised to attract and retain customers.
These are the top six areas of investment Onbuy.com suggests retailers should focus on to help build a brand for the future:
1. Invest in a mobile site and app
The use of a mobile phone for online shopping is continuing its surge in popularity.
2. Adopt an ‘Amazon’ strategy
Amazon has set many new standards in retail through its creativity and disruptive innovations, to make shopping – and life – easier, more convenient, and more fun.
3. Focus on building a name on social media
Many consumers find inspiration for their purchases using traditional social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
4. Develop ‘secure’ platforms for online purchases
A number of consumers only use companies/websites and payment providers that they believe are legitimate and trustworthy to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack.
5. Retain loyal customers
Customers stay loyal when given incentives, such as loyalty cards or discounts.
6. Invest in technology in-store (e.g. VR and AR)
Invest in technology in-store to create a more inviting and comfortable experience for the customer, through using VR/AR, and touchscreen options for customers to search and browse.
Cas Paton, managing director of Onbuy.com, comments, ‘As technology is evolving so rapidly, it is important that companies incorporate new technologies into their business to help keep up with the times. Our survey highlights that consumers want to see more of tech, both in-store and online, and it is vital to do so if you want to future-proof your business for the foreseeable future, and thrive – particularly in the retail sector.’