SOTI Research Finds Retailers Must Master Hybrid Shopping Experiences to Meet Consumer Expectations
Global research finds consumers are looking for personalized shopping experiences that cater to individual preferences, both online and in-store
The retail sector is officially taking on the hybrid business model. The way consumers shop has radically changed once again due to a global supply chain crisis that limited product selection. Inflation and currency issues have also impacted the price of goods at a global scale. Adding to these pressures, consumer expectations have increased. Consumers are now looking for retailers to accommodate their personalized shopping preferences, both online and in-store.
According to SOTI’s new global research report The Tech Effect: Strengthening the Omnichannel to Meet Consumer Demands, retailers that do not leverage technology to enhance online and in-store shopping experiences risk losing consumers to competitors quicker than in previous years.
2022 Created Consumer Shopping Challenges
The 2023 retail report outlines that economic and supply chain issues made it difficult for consumers to shop, as 88% of global consumers experienced availability, pricing and shipping issues. This is a 7% increase from the previous year’s report, prompting consumers to keep an eye out for solutions to these factors before making a purchase online or in-store:
|Items are more expensive||58%|
|Items are no longer available||34%|
|Delivery times are slower than usual||31%|
|Delivery charges are more expensive||28%|
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The Best of Both Worlds
With consumers identifying numerous challenges, it is the retailers offering the most seamless shopping experience, online and in-store, that thrived. The report found that 46% of global consumers still prefer to shop online. While emphasizing the strength of e-commerce, the research confirms a consistent leaning towards a hybrid shopping model. This provides retailers an opportunity to merge strategies from both worlds and fix consumer pain points.
This is a trend seen globally. France (41%) and Australia (40%) report the consumer preference to continue buying items online and picking up in-store, while consumers in Germany (68%) and Mexico (62%) are most likely to continue shopping in-store.
In this hybrid shopping model, consumers are looking for retailers to offer enhanced and more personalized experiences. In fact, 50% of respondents prefer to shop with retailers who offer an experience based on their individual preferences.
“It wasn’t long ago that retailers could put their different channels in silos and report strong bottom lines,” said Shash Anand, SVP of Product Strategy at SOTI. “Now, they need to deliver a seamless and personalized shopping journey that can only be achieved through utilizing technology to ensure consumers are catered to at every touchpoint. Retailers can benefit from a connected and digitized backend infrastructure, as well as mobile tracking technology to instantly offer real-time information, speed up the shopping and checkout process for consumers and give shoppers the choice of how they want items fulfilled.”
Transaction Deal Breakers
Not only is the purchasing process important to consumers, but so is fulfillment. Two-thirds of consumers expect to know where their order is within the delivery process, at all times, and over six-in-ten continued shopping with brands who could deliver goods to them the fastest (61%). In fact, one third of consumers agree that knowing a retailer’s delivery partner determines whether they will complete an order. This resonated the most with consumers from Mexico (75%), Australia (72%) and France (72%).
When it comes to ordering items, the top three options for consumers are front door home delivery (52%), designated drop-off points between the store and their home (14%) and in-home delivery (13%). In addition, 70% said delivery time and speed are still the most important to them, followed by returns, with 55% stating they are more likely to shop from an online retailer who provides multiple options to return a product.
“With delivery charges increasing and delivery options broadening, retailers need to carefully select the right delivery partners to fulfill these heightened consumer expectations. In updating both hardware and software across their entire supply chain management processes, physical warehouses and stores, retailers can better inform their consumers of product availability and delivery timelines while ensuring consumers get the most bang for their buck,” added Anand.
The Grass Can Be Greener on the Other Side
As consumers become more conscious of their spending and the brands they shop from, carbon impact is becoming a new deciding factor. The report echoes this sentiment with over half of consumers (54%) agreeing that they prefer a more sustainable way to return their goods with Mexico, Canada and France among the highest in agreement. Additionally, 44% of respondents agree that they would prefer to shop with a retailer who offers carbon offset and more recyclable packaging.
“Looking ahead, optimizing and increasing the deployment of mobile device fleets across the entire supply chain will be important for retailers. This will allow for sustainable and smooth delivery and returns processes, while creating a flexible hybrid business model for the ultimate consumer-retail experience. Retailers who understand consumer pain points will lock in consumer loyalty at a time when markets are volatile and goods are more expensive,” concluded Anand.
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