Retailers have yet to connect with shoppers, new research shows

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The latest research report from leading independent shopper research agency, Shoppercentric, has been launched today.

The report, entitled: “WindowOn…Connected Shoppers” examines UK shoppers and how they use both digital and traditional touchpoints within the purchase journey. It is the result of more than 1,000 UK shoppers (aged 16+ who own a smartphone) surveys and two focus groups of early technology adopters who use their smartphone as part of the purchase process.

“The way in which shoppers connect with retailers has changed significantly in the past year and is set to continue to evolve at a rapid pace,” said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, “as a result it’s easy to jump on the innovation bandwagon, but before taking the leap it’s important to make sure you understand whether that innovation will ease the path to purchase or whether it’s just another point of frustration for shoppers. After all, what does it mean to be connected from the shopper perspective? And what more could those working in or with the retail sector do to make being connected worthwhile?”

Key learnings:

· Smartphone and app usage for shopping:
o 70 percent of UK shoppers have a smartphone
o 30 percent of smartphone owners have used their smartphone to shop in the last month
o On average smartphone owners use five different touchpoints as part of their shopping habits – including shops, online, smartphones etc
o Using smartphones as a part of the shopping process has only increased nine percent in the past two years (Shoppercentric research 2013) despite the significant growth in mobile enabled websites and apps.
o Of those who don’t regularly use a smartphone as part of the purchase process, 36 percent expect to in the future. These future users are less involved in technology (less likely to have a tablet / SmartTV / wearable) and are more likely to be 45+ or C2DE.
o One in three smartphone owners have shopped using an app however only one in ten of all smartphone users regularly use apps as part of the purchase process – suggesting that they are failing to provide the right content.
o More than twice as many shoppers head for a website on their smartphone when in-store, rather than an app.

· Who are the smartphone shoppers (in the past month)?
o 53 percent of females have used a smartphone for shopping in the last month compared with 47 percent of men.
o The age group most likely to have used a smartphone for shopping in the last month is 25-34 year olds (32 percent).
o ABC1 shoppers are far more likely to have used a smartphone for shopping in the last month – 63 percent compared with 37 percent of C2DE.
o Location-wise, smartphone users in the north of the UK are most likely to have used their smartphone to shop in the last month (27 percent) followed by those in London – 19 percent. The midlands users followed in third place with 18 percent.

· Who are the smartphone app shoppers?
o In terms of usage, 16-24 year olds top the list of most likely to use them (27 percent).
o ABC1 shoppers are far more likely to use apps for shopping – 62 percent compared with 38 percent of C2DE.
o Location-wise, app users in the north of the UK are most likely to have used an app to shop (24 percent) followed by those in the midlands – 19 percent. Users in the south east followed in third place with 18 percent. Just 17 percent of London smartphone users utilised apps when shopping.

· What are smartphone shoppers using the devices for – instore and anywhere?
o Instore smartphone users utilise the devices for sharing ideas the most (47 percent) followed by comparing prices (29 percent) and product information (20 percent). Interestingly sharing photos, taking pictures as a reminder, store location and browsing (with no intention to purchase) were all cited by 17 percent of respondents.
o Using a smartphone anywhere for shopping was used primarily for store location information (36 percent). Using it to get ideas and for seeking out reviews came in joint second place with 32 percent apiece.

· What are the reasons given for not using a smartphone instore?
o 50 percent just couldn’t see the benefit in doing so. In second place 27 percent said that it was too much effort to use instore. Interestingly 23 percent said they’d just never thought of it. A lack of free Wifi was also cited by 22 percent.

· What improvements could retailers and brands do to make shoppers happier?
o Better value for money topped the list (81 percent) followed by discounts for loyalty (64 percent) and better customer services (38 percent).
o Making shopping easier (30 percent) and quicker (26 percent) were also highly requested.
o Shoppers also said they would ‘love’ clearer returns time periods, sites being able to hold basket contents, prompted ideas (e.g. other people have…), better guarantees, Click&collect options, to be able to return online orders to store and to be able to find stock in other stores/online.

“Life is feeling busier than ever and one in three shoppers want the shopper process made easier so there’s a real need to better connect, especially since – as our research shows – shoppers really are willing and open to this approach, but only if there’s a clear benefit to them and a seamless process. Today’s shoppers are still seeing the rough edges that indicate that we’re not quite there yet. We also cannot rely on smartphone connections alone either and must remember the numerous other touchpoints that shoppers use when shopping. It’s really important to view the whole shopper experience and all of the channels and opportunities there are to sell to and fully connect with shoppers,” said Pinnington.

“Smartphones have allowed shoppers to achieve the ultimate in self-service, able to manage and personalise their process to a certain degree. Yet there are times when retailers or brands could and should step in and deliver personal touches to help them get it right the first time… not second or third time around. This should be where the real strengths of ‘connected shopping’ come into play – the ability to set up systems which allow the shopper to easily switch between self-service and proactive assistance. Remember there will always be times when helpful input could make the difference for a shopper,” Pinnington concludes.