The last decade has been a pivotal time for retailers around the world, as consumers expect a different experience when it comes to shopping. Throughout the UK, e-commerce has become a booming industry, with the growth of online and mobile shopping taking hold of the marketplace.
Between 2014 and 2017, e-commerce market share has risen from 13.5% to just under 18%, and that growth is expected to continue for several years to come. It is clear that British consumers are in the driver’s seat, making it crucial for retailers to adapt to new ways of doing business.
For many retailers, the presence of powerhouse e-commerce businesses may seem like a threat. The potential to take away consumers from the tried and true in-store shopping experience is real, but only for those brick-and-mortar locations that fail to step up to the digital plate. This does not necessarily mean closing up shop and transitioning retail business models wholly online. Instead, it requires first understanding the tactics British shoppers are utilising to improve the shopping experience, followed closely by implementing strategies to keep up with the times.
Breaking Down Webrooming and Showrooming
The two most pressing issues facing retailers when it comes to consumer behaviours include webrooming and showrooming. While these terms sound like additions to the bevy of buzzwords used in the digital business world, they cannot be ignored to shrugged off by retailers who want to continue a successful streak.
Webrooming is the process of researching items online, comparing several different options before heading to a brick-and-mortar location to make a purchase. Brits use this strategy to get a feel for the product before finalising a purchase. It is estimated that 81% of UK consumers feel confident that in-store experiences are still vital to their shopping needs, and 70% still enjoy visiting a retailer to make a purchase. However, these statistics are changing rapidly, shifting toward a showrooming tactic employed by a growing number of British consumers.
Showrooming differs from webrooming significantly. Instead of doing online research then heading to a physical store, consumers check out a product they want to purchase in-person. However, the actual purchase is then made online, often for a lower price. Retailers in these instances are acting as a showroom instead of the location where products are purchased. Currently, an estimated 30% of British consumers use this strategy when shopping for items they want. As this trend continues, retailers who do not adapt may be facing slumps in sales and declining revenue along the way.
Tips for Success in the New Age of Retail
Savvy consumers are pressuring retailers to make moves they may not otherwise think were necessary. Creating a strategy that embraces the new trend of consumer behaviour is essential for those brick-and-mortar locations that want to remain relevant. One way to accomplish this is the ensure the retailer is included among popular price comparison websites. With a UK price comparison website, consumers have the ability to shop smarter, using certain services to compare the prices of a single product at several different retailers. The combination of this price comparison information and the customer product reviews easily available online directs consumers on where to buy, whether that is in-store or online.
In addition to being listed on price comparison websites, retailers must embrace a multi-channel strategy for engaging buyers. This means having a physical presence as well as a digital and mobile experience for consumers to choose from when making their shopping choices. There needs to be a seamless connection between the in-person and online experience shoppers have, implemented with the help of modern technology like mobile applications that allow consumers to pick and choose how they buy.
It is also crucial for retailers to focus some energy and capital on the in-store experience. Anyone can shop online, and feel confident that they are getting the best price in doing so. However, the physical store experience will always be preferred for some consumers. This is only true, though, when that in-store shopping trip is memorable for good reason. Shoppers expect an engaging experience when visiting a store, since they have made the effort to visit to make their purchase. The use of technology can also be included, such as image recognition tools or customer-service robotics. Above all, retailers need to ensure the in-person consumer gets what he or she needs out of the shopping experience each time.
Combining efforts of a digital shopping experience alongside the irreplaceable in-store experience is necessary for retailers if they want to survive the next digital wave. Consumers are using online access to gain a better understanding of the products they buy, from both a customer review and price perspective. To ensure they are in the running for British consumers’ business, embracing an approach the includes multi-channel strategies, price comparison site inclusion, and a memorable shopping experience is key.