Around the world, consumers want retailers to give them greater access to information so they can make more informed choices when they shop. And they recognise the importance of technology to delivering this. However they remain sensitive to issues over privacy.
The figures are contained in a new global study released by Oracle which tested attitudes in 10 countries including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the UK and USA.
Called “Retail without limits. A modern commercial society” the study revealed huge changes in consumer attitudes in a very short time.
For instance demand for transparency outstrips any other consumer requirement, and this is especially so in terms of which insight would add the most value to an experience. The 70 per cent response to this question is more than double the 33 per cent response recorded last year.
Likewise access to product information across digital channels or in-store is also rated highly by global respondents (59 per cent), again more than double last year’s result for 24 per cent. And the ability to track orders as well as the desire for a connected shopping experience have also gained importance in consumers’ eyes, say the authors.
The results prove the value consumers recognise from implementing technologies that allow for stock visibility.
“While last year, only 18 per cent valued technologies that enabled a connected shopping journey, this year the number has risen to 42 per cent . And while 15 per cent of global respondents appreciated an integrated approach to tracking current and historical orders, this year 51 per cent do so.”
In looking at the importance of transparency it is key to understand its potential impact. Lack of transparency results in unhappy shoppers.
The study found that 45 per cent of global consumers interviewed said lack of availability disappointed them most in their shopping experience and those results were pretty consistent around the globe.
“In a world where dogs are loyal, consumers aren’t. How do you build loyalty? Consumers surveyed for our research have indicated that if they can get what they need when they need it, they are inclined to be more loyal. Some 31 per cent indicated that the right product, right place at the right time is most important to them in their shopping experience. 51 per cent say they are more loyal if this is done right.”
Who loves ya, baby?
Amazon remains the world’s most popular retailer according to the study, with India’s FlipKart and eBay getting honorable mentions, and traditional retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco now also turning up on the list.
The reasons for their success have as much to do with good old fashioned retailing smarts, as technology. According to the report, “Price dominated as the reason these retailers won the popularity contest (55 per cent), followed closely by quality (41 per cent), choice (36 per cent) and convenience (27 per cent).”
The lesson learned according to the authors, “Consumers want access to a wide selection of quality, low-priced goods – delivered how and when they want. And they don’t stop at their local market to source them.” The study revealed that the majority of consumers already buy goods from an offshore international retailer. “Only the USA (39 per cent), Japan (41 per cent) and the UK (43 per cent) falling below the global average.”
Australians love their bricks over clicks, but why?
Australian consumers for instance where the most engaged with the in store retail channel. Fully, 69 per cent preferred to shop in the store – the highest in the survey and more than 50 per cent more than the global average of 44 per cent. It is hard to escape the suspicion that this reflects the tardiness of local retailers in building out sophisticated digital channels rather than any deeply embedded cultural issue. (That’s my conclusion, not Oracle’s) .
And while privacy remains a significant bugbear for Australian consumers, it seems there is little appreciation locally of the advantage to shoppers from some uses of technology .
“In Australia, consumers recognize that retailers are able to offer greater value to them if they understand more about their individual shopping requirements. However, 65 per cent continue to have reservations or disagree with retailers collecting information on their shopping habits, distinctly higher than the global average of 55 per cent.”
That contrasts with the 45 per cent of local consumers who say they understand the benefits of doing so, and want to be able to take advantage of more targeted promotions and rewards.
Still, it is worth noting that only 15 per cent of respondents said they were happy to allow retailers to track their movements in-store or online. “Both responses rated lower than the global average of 56 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.”
Bill Kearney, senior director, Oracle Retail said that there were a number of areas where Australian shoppers differed from their peers. “First of all people appear to prefer the store and the store experience still with 69 per cent wanting to buy goods in store and take them home.
“Additionally, we saw where this was further backed up by 53 per cent saying that the convenience of the store had a direct impact on loyalty which was over 10 percentage points above the global average. We would have a guess that this was not just for grocery shopping.”
He said that clearly, the ability for the local store to use their store and their personnel in the store well continues to offer an opportunity to differentiate.
According to Kearney, “We believe that knowing your customer, their desires, preferences and habits is key but aligning that with having a constant and clear vision of your inventory, what is available to promise to the customer and having the ability to get the product to the customer in their desired location is key.”
Australian’s are also more price sensitive, it seems. “Australians answered that 79 per cent of the time price had an impact on loyalty and what makes them loyal. This was nine points above the global average. This is a very interesting one because we had other statistics in the report that showed that 61 per cent wanted the retailer to engage with them more which is a bit of a shift to a ‘know more about me’ from a ‘don’t sell to me and let me be anonymous’ view that may or may not have existed in the past.
“We see this as being further backed up by a full 49 per cent saying that the level of service they receive is now impacting their level of loyalty to a retailer and we expect this number to increase over time.”
Andrew Birmingham is the editor of www.which-50.com