Co-founder of retail experience design agency Foolproof Peter Ballard says don’t just assume digital will take over from all in-store purchasing
Findings released by European retail experience design agencies, Foolproof, have revealed the high street has a surprising advocate: the younger ‘digital generation’.
We asked a series of questions pertaining to online vs in-store purchasing behaviours, expectations and drivers.
What we found was surprising and runs against the grain of assumptions about digital being the inevitable future for retailers.
For example, 58% of 18-24 year olds and 60% of 25-34 year olds stated they would rather shop for clothes in-store than online.
The figures suggest it’s not all doom and gloom for the high-street.
Our generations of the future still see a place for the in-store shopping experience, but retailers need to create an experience that plays to the strengths of in-store shopping, whilst fixing the pain points that are driving people away.
Assessing quality in-store
The undeniable power of e-commerce has been a game-changing opportunity for businesses: According to the Office for National Statistics, around 18% of UK purchases are made online each month.
Clearly, brands cannot afford to pass up on the potential of the e-commerce marketplace. However, by neglecting physical stores, brands may be selling themselves short.
The high street remains an important channel for brands to engage customers, which even “digital natives” appreciate.
Convenience is the biggest driver for shopping online. 42% of 18-24 year olds and 44% of 25-34 year olds prefer to shop online, but the driver is because they can do it at a time convenient for them — not just when the stores are open.
However, over a quarter of the digital generation (18-24) (27%) and a further 30% of 25-34 year olds said they prefer to shop in-store because it’s a social outing with friends and family.
And the greatest motivator for shopping in-store is assessing quality – nearly half of 18-24 year olds (47%) and 25-34 of year olds (49%) prefer to shop in-store so they can check the quality of their purchases.
Retailers have an opportunity, but they need to act now or they will lose out forever.
As the digital world continues to mature, we are seeing time and time again that truly beautiful and frictionless experiences are pulling favour.
Some of the advantages of the in-store experience over online shopping, such as the tactile nature of browsing and assessing an item’s quality with your own eyes, may eventually be addressed with advances in technology. But for now those aspects of shopping still have to happen physically, in-store, in person.
So a good place for retailers to start is building some of the advantages of online shopping into the in-store experience, for example providing more inspiration and guidance to consumers.
Brands should also play up the aspects of in-store shopping that cannot be replicated online: the ability to see and feel the quality of products, and the opportunity for a social outing with friends.
By considering in-store and e-commerce in tandem, brands can use the strengths and opportunities unique to both to safeguard the future of the high-street.
Online meets instore
Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your customer’s experience with your brand, in-store and online, intimately through some customer research.
This will give you valuable insight about your store, and the service offering your customers want you to deliver.
Think where the digital and physical experiences of shopping can meet.
Take each touch point and ask whether technology can enhance this in-store?
Overall, think door-to-door in terms of the retail experience you offer, not just the browse and buy element.
What role can your brand play from the moment someone has a need, to the moment they own the product and have it at home?
Founder of DownYourHighStreet Dan Whytock explains why retailers should consider omni-channel.