Your Reflect - 8th December 2016

Published: 8th December 2016 12:17
Author: Chris Workman © JDA & GA 2016-2019

Bricks-and-mortar stores

Having survived the retail Armageddon that was the rise of e-commerce, bricks-and-mortar has somehow managed to emerge not just alive, but with a fiercely protective sting in its tail. It’s claimed that the physical store is still the place where 90% of purchases take place – the human endpoint to a digitally-driven journey.

But, as with any nuclear explosion, ShopperTrak says that the retail landscape looks completely different than it did before being disrupted by online, mobile and social channels.

Having spoken to thousands of consumers for its international study, the location-based data provider reveals that busy schedules are forcing shoppers to be much more strategic when it comes to retail.

“This has a lot to do with the store’s role, as online has become the new search and discovery point,” it says. “The term ‘webrooming’ – researching online before purchasing in-store – has been around for a couple of years, but the extent of its influence grows almost continuously. Sixty per cent of shoppers globally will look up a product online before buying in store, and this has risen to 90% in the UK and 83% in the USA*.”

ShopperTrak’s Redesigning Retail report reveals that, on average, 58% of shopping trips to bricks-and-mortar stores are planned, particularly during the working week, and just 4% of global shoppers visit stores to purely browse.

It has discovered that while 25% of consumers feel they visit physical retail stores one or two times less per month now that they have the ability to shop online, more than two-thirds use click-and-collect, including almost half of 16-25-year-olds. The figure is highest in the UK, where 40% order online and collect in-store.

And 53% of those who use the c&c service admit to making impromptu purchases while in store, while a third will visit other nearby stores during their visit. This up-spend opportunity has been enhanced by a shift towards evening shopping, with under-25s twice as likely to go shopping on a Saturday evening than over-45s, and six times more likely to shop on a Wednesday evening.

Global consultant Lyanne Earle says that shopping centres and retail parks have been quickest to spot the Night Time Economy opportunity and adapt their offering to accommodate emerging retail shopping patterns.

ShopperTrak’s report adds that many retailers are yet to adapt their proposition and warns that failure to do so in a digital world “will mean they only encounter the challenges, such as reduced footfall, without reaping the benefits”.

It says that to avoid lost income they must address which elements of the shopper experience could stop people making a purchase – and because there is no such thing as ‘the average customer’ today, understand what each shopper segment wants from bricks-and-mortar.

“Retailers and shopping centres need to focus on promoting what the store can do which ecommerce cannot … The more embedded retail becomes with the lifestyle of today’s shoppers, the safer the store’s role in the future.”

I look forward to reading part two of the report and finding out just how ShopperTrak thinks that can be achieved. Not easy an easy job, I’d say, particularly for smaller retailers.

November retail sales

In November total UK retail sales increased by 1.3% over the previous year, according to The British Retail Consortium and KPMG.

Not a spectacular performance, but “pretty solid”, says BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson who reports that the week including Black Friday saw non-food sales up around 40% compared with the other weeks of the month. However, compared to last year there was more of a shift of spending from earlier in November, with sales down on last year in the weeks prior to the 25th of the month.

“With an extra weekend to shop for Christmas this year, nerves will be tested in December as retailers choose their strategies to attract the last-minute gift shoppers,” adds Dickinson.

Christmas shopping

I don’t know that my heart rate increases by 33% while I’m Christmas shopping, as an Ebay study suggests it might. This is apparently on a par with running a marathon. And according to the online marketplace, 88% of shoppers even experience tachycardia, where the heart races over 100 beats per minute!

Results show that as the pressure of finding the perfect present increases, people hit a “wall of disenchantment” 32 minutes into their shopping experience – a tipping point when thoughtful gift buying is lost and shoppers succumb to “seasonal fears and stress”.

To combat these pressures, results indicate Brits should embrace High Intensity Interval Shopping (H.I.I.S.) – short bursts that don’t leave you as stressed and encourage more meaningful purchases.

With less than three weeks to go to Christmas, I suspect that H.I.I.S. will be the only way forward for me if I am to get my shopping done. But I’m sure that even this approach will affect my stress levels and be just as painful on my purse.

If you’re a retailer I wonder if sales are setting your heart racing. Nationwide says that the average Brit will spend almost half of their monthly salary on Christmas “food, booze and presents”. Some of that is hopefully heading your way!

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