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Shoppers visit fewer stores as technology becomes ubiquitous: MasterCard

In-store shoppers are more focused than ever, buying from a narrower list of unique stores than in the past now that technology touches nearly every retail transaction in some way, according to a new report from MasterCard.

The report, Retail CMO’s Guide to the Omnishopper, reveals that shoppers continue to get smarter yet find themselves frustrated by retailers that do not understand their needs. A fey finding is that eight out of 10 consumers globally use a computer, smartphone, tablet or in-store technology when shopping.

“Device proliferation is what has created the omnishopper and the omnishopping experience,” said Theodore Iacobuzio, vice president of global insights at MasterCard. “Mobile may be the device of the future, or it may be superseded by technology we can’t even imagine.

“Right now it is probably the most powerful tool in the omnishopper’s arsenal, because it combines payment functionality, location and research potential—as well as banking and financial information—in one portable device,” he said. “It would be too much to say that mobile has created the omnishopper, but it’s hard to imagine the omnishopper without a smartphone.”

MasterCard analyzed anonymous transactional data to determine the number of retailers the average customer purchased from over the past five years. The report is also based on a survey of 10,000 omnishoppers who had purchased both online and offline within a 30-day period.

Omnishopper vs. omnichannel
The research found that 62 percent of consumers are researching purchases more compared to two years ago and only five percent are doing less research.

However, there are big differences by age, with 72 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds researching more while less than 50 percent of consumers over 50 are researching more.

Additionally, 45 percent are researching more because of better information and 31 percent because more reliable reviews are available.

A key takeaway for retailers is that they should be thinking in terms of omnishoppers,  not omnichannel.

“The consumer is not interested in channels, she’s interested in buying,” Mr. Iacobuzio said. “And you should be focusing on the consumer, not on the channels, in the sense you can’t market to a channel.

“The retailers who internalize this truth will be successful this holiday, and beyond,” he said. “There is room for pure-plays, and for any number of configurations of channel, in this new world.”

The confident shopper
Consumers are more confident shoppers, with 80 percent saying they are better shoppers than they were a few years ago and 70 percent saying they get more value out of their retail purchases compared with five years ago.

Interestingly, using tech is less important than liking tech when it comes to feeling like a smarter shopper, with 81 percent of those who like tech but do not use it feeling like a smarter shopper compared with just 67 percent of those who use tech but do not like it.

The store is still the center of the omnishopper’s universe, with just ecommerce accounting for less than 10 percent of total retail sales globally.

Key reasons why omnishoppers still go to physical locations are the entertainment value of shopping, superior inventory levels and social interaction.

Omnishoppers are also comfortable with the retailers they know, with value, track record/experience and convenience the top reasons that drive the omnishopper back to the same merchant.

The report also found that inventory issues trump data security concerns when it comes to the most frustrating shopping experiences.

“One of the most arresting findings of the CMO’s Guide to the Omnishopper has been the importance of inventory,” Mr. Iacobuzio said. “As we often say, inventory is what drags the shopper across the finish line and makes him a buyer.

“Retailers approaching the holiday season need to remember that the consumer expects a seamless shopping experience, online and in-store,” he said. “Retailers who bobble this will lose the sale.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York