- The vast majority (87%) of shoppers begin product searches on digital channels, up from 71% last year. In the digital realm, 28% start out on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, a 22% increase from last year, according to new research from Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient.
- Brick-and-mortar stores still play an important role in retailing, with 46% of shoppers saying that they prefer to buy in a physical location. However, 35% prefer buying via laptops and 18% prefer buying via mobile phones, according to the "Shopper-First Retailing" report.
- The importance of mobile for retailers is now firmly established with 71% of shoppers saying they use mobile devices in stores, a number that is up from 62% in 2017, and rises to 83% for consumers aged 18 to 44.
While nearly half of shoppers prefer to buy in-store over online marketplaces or digital brands, retailers will need more than a convenient service counter to compete in the future, according to the new report. As the next wave of retail technology crests, customers will find voice tech, sensors and blockchain affecting their experiences and expectations.
According to the report, the three new rules of retail are: "Make it fresh," that is, create unique products and speed up the shopping experience; "Be where I am," meaning, develop a frictionless shopping experience; and "Give it meaning," that is, improve customer relationships with values-driven connections, personalization and loyalty initiatives.
Technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), for example, can be used to create personalization. The research found that 6% of retail visits that involved engagement with AI-powered recommendations drove 37% of revenue. Those personalized experiences brought a 4.5 times greater cart rate and a 5 times greater per visit spend.
Underscoring the "Keep it fresh" mandate, the Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient research found that 69% of shoppers expect to see new products when they come to a store or visit a site; 75% of search queries on e-commerce sites are new each month; and 59% of the top 5% of the top-selling items change monthly. "It’s not fast fashion — it’s fresh retail, which means moving at the pace of the shopper," the report quoted Deborah Weinswig, CEO and Founder, Coresight Research, as saying.
The report also noted four foundational retail truths: "Lead with mobile," which accounts for 92% of e-commerce order growth; "Empower the store," where 71% of shoppers prefer to leave with their purchase; "Infuse intelligence," such as personalization which influences 38% of digital revenues; and "Connect experiences," improving on the poor mobile in-store experience rating of 1.74 out of 5 found by the study’s mystery shoppers.