In this opinion piece, Mediaworks digital marketing executive Caitlin Purvis looks into the technological influences on shopping habits.
Technology has had an enormous impact on how shopping patterns have changed throughout the years, but just how far will it continue?
Research has shown that between the years 2015 and 2017, there was an 85 per cent increase in search for footwear reviews — showing that buyers want to learn more before they buy.
Habits before purchasing your product
Search terms are becoming more specific according to Google, when people are shopping online. This is done to there being more specific search terms.
Rising search terms between 2015 and 2017 included ‘kids light up shoes’ and ‘men’s Italian dress shoes’.
This is possibly because we often know precisely what product we desire and are confident that our search will yield relevant results due to the vast amount of available information on the internet.
For an inspiration for a purchase, it is recorded that people are now heading online for ideas as oppose to psychically window shopping.
Social media was the first choice when respondents were asked where they get online inspiration from for their purchases.
This behaviour has paved the way for social media influencers and celebrity endorsements too.
In fact, the search term ‘influencer marketing’ experienced a 325 per cent increase in searches between 2016 and 2017 — demonstrating company and agency interest in the new technique.
By visiting a website and buying with a click of a button — the customer now can interact with a retailer in an increased number of ways – this is taking away the more physical aspect of shopping.
This potential user-to-business engagement allows an individual to connect more with a brand, through social media contact and additional communication channels (such as live chat and 24/7 phone lines).
Advantages of physical stores?
Retailers with physical stores have the chance to reduce their stock levels on-site and use the newfound space to create a more enjoyable, sensory experience for shoppers.
Although visits to physical stores were once falling, weekly bricks-and-mortar shoppers are up from 40 per cent in 2015 to 44 per cent in 2018.
This could be due to people using shopping as a social activity, but what new opportunities does this bring to retailers?
Statistics show that mobile commerce more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, rising from 7 per cent to 17 per cent.
This shows that more people are picking up their smartphone to make a purchase too.
It’s looking likely that mobile shopping sales will soon surpass PC-based buying, which is currently at 20 per cent.
The increase in mobile commerce suggests that less people are trying before they buy, as they would in a store.
As a result of this, the delivery and returns process has been made so easy by many retailers in order to encourage customers to order their products first and then try them at home.
Customers are getting used to the convenient delivery service too.
In fact, 25 per cent of customers said that they wouldn’t continue with their orders if one-day delivery wasn’t available.
If we look at everything in the grand scheme of things, it does in fact appear that technology truly has changed shopping forever, with a wider availability of products than ever before, alongside quick service.
We’ve seen the demise of some high street stores as they struggle to keep up with the requirements of consumers of the digital age.
So, what does the future look like for the shopping industry?
Perhaps a 30-minutes drone delivery is on it’s way? Who knows what is possible!
This would mean that it would be possible that we could receive products even quicker than we are already.
It has been reported that almost 40 per cent of customers would consider this as a method too! We can also expect to see more engaging stores as companies try to encourage more store visits.
With the widespread use of social media, it’s likely that influencer marketing will remain popular.
But, due to the rapid speed of technological advancements, it’s hard to predict exactly what’s around the corner.
The above has been written alongside Frank Wright, a British footwear brand that offers high-quality leather shoes.