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Changing consumer behaviour – threat or opportunity?


Recent months have seen a number of store closures, which has led some commentators to see a negative future for retail. The rise of e-commerce and changing consumer habits and behaviours has forced the industry to adapt. But is this a threat or an opportunity to further enhance your business?

Tradition Vs Tech

To meet customers’ changing wants and needs, some traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are investing in new technology and moving away from the high street. But do they need to move away from the high street completely? PwC’s 2018 Consumer Insights Survey highlighted that 44% of global customers are shopping in stores every week*. The excitement of the World Cup and the rare UK heatwave saw a spike in July retail sales showing a willingness for the consumer to move back to traditional retail.

It was reported that 50% of respondents use a smartphone to complete payment in-store, either through customised orders in advance, in-store apps, or a mobile payment platform at checkout*. We tend to see a clear divide between online and offline but for your customers this may be blurred. Regardless of how they purchase an item, whether it be online, by phone or PC or offline in-store, we need to remember that they all want the same outcome.

PwC’s 2018 Consumer Insights Survey highlighted that 44% of global customers are shopping in stores every week.

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Time is money

Through a simple online search, we have access to a wider choice of products and information, heightening our customer’s expectations. According to PwC, more than 40% of respondents would pay extra for same day delivery*. Your customers’ want instant gratification from their purchases and expect their retailers to deliver. This gives you the opportunity to pioneer new ways to present and deliver your offering. For example, many businesses are starting to explore the use of drones for their deliveries. PwC highlighted that nearly 40% of consumers were happy for drones to be used*. However, although the market for new shopping experiences continues to grow, consumers remain cautious of the unknown with 22% happy for a drone to be used for low-cost item only*.

A new customer experience

As habits change and technology progresses, retailers are trying to connect both online and offline experiences, creating ‘Omni-channel Retail’. Technology, data and AI implementations are enabling retailers to provide a better customer experience. According to the ‘Customers 2020 study’ by Walker, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020**.

Previously, a consumer would have been happy with a range of in-store products and a well-thought-out store layout. Now, they receive a quick and interactive experience online from the comfort of their home. Nowadays shopping is viewed as a social experience rather than convenient*.  Sought after social experiences need to be exciting and you have an opportunity to create a personalised and value-added experience for your customers. You’ll need to consider offering an experience your customers can’t get online. From smart mirrors to voice activated assistance and robots, retail is evolving. What could work for your industry?

You should utilise your customer’s changing behaviour to offer a new and exciting offering that differs from your competitors. As the market shifts, could you offer something new and different? Don’t forget to consider how and when to best integrate your finance into your customer journey whether in store or online. For advice, speak to your Account Manager.

* PwC Consumer Insights Report 2018

** Customers 2020 study’ by Walker