Eighty-seven percent of U.K. shoppers used physical stores in past month as part of their purchase journey, 13% used smartphones, 7% used tablets; inability to experience products, lack of human face seen as online shopping's main drawbacks

February 27, 2012 (press release) – The latest report from Shoppercentric, an independent agency specialising in shopper research, has been launched today. The research entitled: “Shopping in a Multichannel World” reveals the latest trends in multi-channel retailing from the shopper perspective.

“In this world of 24/7 shopping it’s very easy for retailers to focus on business needs and get caught up in the excitement of implementing the latest technologies,” said Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director at Shoppercentric. “We wanted to find out from Shoppers what resources they actually use to browse, research, consider or purchase from, and to establish what their needs really are, and whether any age or gender distinctions might exist.

The report findings are very insightful – modern shoppers expect all retail channels to flow smoothly from one to the other, but they also increasingly expect an individualised shopping experience, perfect for them. No small order.”

Key findings:

-- Access points in the past month:
o Instore: 87 percent of shoppers used bricks and mortar shops as part of their purchase journey.
o Catalogues: 23 percent of shoppers used catalogues
o New technologies: 13 percent of shoppers used smartphones during their purchase journeys, and seven percent used Tablets. Just two percent through Internet TV.
-- New technology penetration:
o Smartphones: 45 percent of all shoppers now own one - 52 percent of men and 39 percent of women. In terms of ages, smartphones are most popular with the 18-24 year olds (64 percent) followed by 25-34 year olds (62 percent).
o Tablets: 14 percent of shoppers are owners - 16 percent of men and 11 percent among women. They are most popular with the 25-34 year old age bracket (21 percent) followed by 18-24 year olds and 35-44 year olds – both 17 percent apiece.
o QR codes: Just five percent of shoppers have used QR codes so far; Eight percent amongst men, and three percent of women.
o Apps: Nine percent have used a retailer app. and five percent a brand app. during a purchase journey; in each case, the penetration is higher amongst men (12 percent and eight percent respectively)
o Social media: Seven percent of shoppers said they have used social media sites during a purchase journey.
-- Instore
o All about trust and experience, but bordering on inefficient
-- 70 percent agree that shops are great for when you want to talk to someone
-- 73 percent state shops are good for experiencing items before they buy 69 percent agree that going into store is a secure way of shopping
-- 81 percent expect good customer service from Shops in comparison to 42 percent from retailer websites.
-- 66 percent expect good returns policy from Shops but this reduces to 54 percent for retailer websites.
o Biggest issues for shops
-- 79 percent of shoppers cite crowding as the biggest problem in shops. This is followed by high prices (50 percent) and the time required to actually go shopping (50 percent).
o Clicks access points
o Online (via any access point) offers convenience and facilitation, but lacks the experiential dimension, as well as security
Desktops / laptops
o Liked most amongst users for making the shopping journey easier (81 percent), for facilitating research and information access (79 percent) and saving time (77 percent)
o Biggest issues are not being able to experience the products (59 percent), delivery charges (59 percent) and not being in for deliveries (54 percent). The lack of a human face to the company was also a significant issue –
53 percent, and only 58 percent thought it a secure way to shop.
o Perhaps unsurprisingly smartphones are liked most by their users for when they are on the move (74 percent), and allowing anytime, anywhere access (64 percent). This is followed by being helpful for store location (61 percent)
o The biggest issue smartphone users cited was not being able to experience the products (51 percent) but poor network coverage (46 percent) and slow connections (41 percent) were also key frustrations, somewhat challenging the ‘anytime, anywhere’ benefits. Security concerns even more of an issue for smartphone access, with only 29 percent of users believing it to be a secure way to shop.
o Liked most by their users for offering easy access to information (58 percent) followed by being great forbrowsing, fitting around shoppers lives and for research purposes (55 percent  each).
o The biggest issue here is the lack of being able to experience products (46 percent) and the absence of a human face (43 percent). Security is again an issue, with only 47 percent believing that using tablets for shopping was secure.
The shopping generation
o Whilst it’s clear that the younger generation are in favour of new technologies (62 percent say they love all of the new technology being used by retailers), it’s not quite so well received across the ages and drops to 26 percent of 65 year olds plus. However, of all the age groups the younger generation was also more likely to love shopping as a social event (46 percent).
o 34-45 year olds are the group who prefer shopping online to visiting the shops most (55 percent).
 Trust:
o Shops are the most trusted channel for getting expert advice (68 percent), followed by brand websites (52 percent).
o Brand websites and comparison websites score the most for providing trustworthy information (40 percent and 39 percent respectively). The least trusted route is social media scoring just 17 percent. Interestingly then that this route is also perceived as the best source of exclusives on new products (50 percent).

Pinnington commented: “New technology channels are changing the way we shop – the flexibility they provide gives shoppers almost universal choice and access. Despite this, our research says 45 percent of shoppers will ‘always love going to the shops, no matter what new technologies are available’. The key point is that shoppers are becoming very adept at picking and choosing the channel that suits them under particular circumstances. Yet retailers and brands have tended to compartmentalise – thinking of shoppers who shop versus shoppers who go online. They’ve even structured themselves so that the shops are managed by one team and the online by another – very few have successfully merged the two.
Our data shows that a huge amount of overlap between channels exists - shoppers don’t assign individual roles to individual channels. Despite each channel having different core strengths and weaknesses, going online isn’t just about researching a product or buying (cheaply), and likewise visiting the stores isn’t just about browsing.

The trick is to deliver a seamless, but tailored experience – to understand that channels have multiple roles for shoppers; they aren’t just where shoppers buy products, they are where they go for inspiration, information, advice, range, prices, offers, and product experience in order to make a purchase. Marketers should be excited about the prospect of being able to make an impact on the purchasing journey in many more ways than before. The opportunity to change shopper behaviour is better than it has ever been. The retailer or brand that is able to use all the channels at its disposal to meet shoppers’ needs is the business that will reap the rewards.”
About the research
1001 online quantitative interviews were conducted among adults aged 18+ with nationally representative quotas. This was supplemented with extensive desk research and in-depth interviews among 12 shoppers who have already adopted a range of new channels and touchpoints.
About Shoppercentric
Shoppercentric is an independent agency specialising in shopper behaviour research, providing brand owners and retailers with the perspective that drives shopper marketing and retail strategies. It was established in 2004 and works with clients ranging from Cadbury to Debenhams.

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