Bricks and mortar not dead: One in two Australians will still shop in-store by 2022

Salmat research finds in five years 11% of shoppers aren’t interested in virtual shopping experiences and 43% want samples or loan products delivered to their homes to research and compare products

New research from Salmat reveals by 2022 in-store and human interactions will remain an important aspect of the retail experience for Australian consumers. The data which looks into consumers’ multichannel preferences and behaviours finds customers prefer to touch and try products before they buy (43%) and are not interested in virtual experiences (11%), suggesting retailers must capture consumers’ imagination and create a shopping experience where online and offline intersect to meet the needs of their consumers.

Australian consumers still want in-store and human interactions

According to the study conducted by Australian Consumer, Retail, and Services (ACRS) Research Unit, in five years shoppers will split the majority of their shopping between in-store (48%) and online (45%). Further to this, 59% of consumers want an equal balance of interaction between technology and humans, while 26% will prefer interacting with a real person. Overall, the majority (53%) of shoppers won’t let smart, automated technology – such as robot assistants, automated scheduling apps, and face and body recognition – buy any products or services for them.

The success of e-commerce giants like Amazon can largely be attributed to their data strategy and personalisation. However, the study shows that over a third of shoppers (39%) are not willing to share their personal information with retailers and the same amount (39%) would only be willing to if they receive personalised offers relevant to their needs and tastes.

However, 58% of respondents report being open to retail shopping assistants suggesting products and services based on their personal information and purchase history, demonstrating shoppers are more comfortable if personalisation tactics are used in-store.

When it comes to online shopping, the focus is on delivery and returns

In terms of the online shopping experience, the majority of shoppers (80%) most want to see a free and easy returns policy from retailers in five years’ time, followed by same-day delivery (75%). However, when selecting what same-day delivery option shoppers most prefer, delivery to the exact location by a person is the most preferred method (56%), and only 15% like to see delivery to their exact pick up location by an automated device.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Salmat Head of Marketing, Ben Hillman, said: “The results are interesting, particularly when looking at the Amazon effect internationally and with its impending entry into the Australian market. The company has built their success off fast delivery and logistics, and according to them, technology like drones will be the future for delivering goods. What our data surprisingly suggests is that Aussie consumers still have a way to go to fully embrace digital technologies – and whilst technology is great for the research of a product and service, when it comes to buying and delivering, it is still vitally important for shoppers to maintain a greater level of control.

Consumers want to touch and try products, and are not interested in virtual experiences

Offering customers the chance to try before they buy gives marketers the ability to deliver something tactile, which in turn has positive effects on the recipient’s memory, emotions and behaviour. The research reveals that sampling is a popular tool, with 43% of shoppers reporting that free sampling or loan products delivered to their homes to test is something they would like as a way to research and compare products. Only 11% of shoppers say they will research and compare products using augmented and virtual reality in the future.

Mr Hillman Continued: “For marketers, it’s important to understand their customers when it comes to the purchase process – what they need and want, their customer journey, and where they are going in the future. From the research, it’s clear that retailers need to find ways to meet the needs of their consumers using both online and offline tools and techniques – following the trends of the day won’t necessarily deliver a return.

“As customers continue to increase their time online, every interaction leaves a digital footprint and is an opportunity for marketers to better reach, convert and serve them. Smart businesses are using implicit, implied and non-intrusive data collection techniques to create engaging campaigns in a way that consumers can respond positively to and overcome those not interested in supplying their personal information,” he said.

Sean Sands, Managing Director at ACRS, said: “Over the past decade, online retailing and social media have led many commentators to suggest that physical retail would eventually decline or die. However, this is by no means the case. Humans are essentially descendants of hunters and gathers, and we still desire the “hunt of the kill” which translates today to touching, feeling, and experiences of physical space. Online is an important component of the retail mix, and for the next five years at least, in-store will continue to be the central hub for consumer interactions and shopping experiences.”


Methodology for consumer research

The figures in this release are based on the ACRS Omnibus Tracker from August 2017. The ACRS Omnibus Tracker is a quarterly tracking study of consumers’ multichannel preferences and behaviour, based on a survey of 500 Australian shoppers.

About Salmat

Salmat is a leading Australian marketing services business. We partner with our clients to help them with the constant pressure of acquiring and servicing their customers, week-in, week-out. With media, digital and contact capabilities, we have the right solutions for our clients, enabling them to Reach, Convert and Serve more customers.

Founded in 1979, Salmat has evolved from a small letterbox distribution business to an ASX-listed company. With a talented team across four countries we work with some of Australia’s most recognised and trusted brands to manage billions of customer interactions every year.

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About AMSRS 240 Articles

The Australian Market & Social Research Society Limited (AMSRS) is a not-for-profit professional membership body of over 2,000 market and social research professionals who are dedicated to increasing the standard and understanding of market and social research in Australia. The Society assists members to develop their careers by heightening professional standards and ethics in the fields of market and social research.

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