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Total Retail 2013

Source: Phoenix UX, 29 November 2012

An interesting article from Australia's Deakin University argues retailers are facing 'the most fundamental period of change since the introduction of shopping malls'. With the introduction of smartphones and augmented reality technologies and social media data there is a huge space in the market for retailers to take advantage and shape the retail shopping experience for the consumers in the future.

Some retailers have started to realise the benefits of these so called 'third wave technologies' such as ASDA who are focusing on enabling consumers to move seamlessly between the store and the web by having a 'click and collect service,' whereby you can pick up your items at your own convenience and introducing free Wi-Fi in-store. Other retailers such as Debenhams and Tesco have introduced the 'virtual pop-up store' which allows consumers to interact with the brand then purchase the product, using augmented reality technology and touch screen interface in the aim of achieving real value to their consumers.

However, others have no plans to introduce these technologies any time soon (according to a recent research commissioned by eBay, just over 38% of retailers said they have no plans to introduce these new technologies over the next two years). The reasons for some retailers not investing in new technologies is to either do with the lack of understanding of how the technology would be applicable to their business or the upfront cost needed.

Since the recession, consumers have been and still are limiting their spending budget and retailers have been and are currently faced with disappointing sales figures. All the recent events, reports and initiatives concerning retail voice the same warning: retailers must keep up with the technology wave or they will lose out to their competitors. There is a strong call for a 'unified and personalized' multichannel customer experience now more than ever, as retailers are faced not  only with a plethora of technologies, but more importantly with today's sophisticated and demanding consumer.

We wanted to hear what the consumers think about current and future trends in retail, so we decided to survey respondents from our own panel to find out their opinions with regards to the following:

  • Shopping Experience e.g. where they shop, whether they prefer to shop 'in-store' or 'online' and what are the deciding factors when purchasing a product.
  • Mobile Experience e.g. have consumers used their mobile device (smartphone/tablet) to shop online, which retailers they have actually used to purchase via their mobile device and do consumers go on the app or directly to the website.

In-store experience e.g. consumers 'ideal' in-store experience, we gave them a link to 3 short videos which demonstrated using your mobile device to scan items in store, or trying items on virtually and the final video was getting digital information relayed onto clothes you try on.

Social network experience, e.g. what types of social network sites consumers use, whether or not they follow brands and if so what brands and why? Finally what could brands do to improve or enhance their reputation for online shopping experience to their consumers?

We have analysed the results and some interesting feedback came from the survey. There seems to be an overall consensus from consumers that they would want an improved shopping experience whether it would be 'in-store' or 'online', but getting the balance right of a shopping experience and making the consumers 'do all the work' is another thing.

49% stated they preferred to shop 'online' while 51% preferred to shop 'in-store', would this figure continue to increase in the future? And would online shopping become the norm and would Stores be used only as collection points? Do retailers need to start implementing the technologies now rather than wait a couple of years?
Please request the results at info@phoenix-ux.co.uk