Canadian consumers expect the Total Retail package
Regardless of whether shopping on-line or in-store, it's the "experience" of the journey that plays a crucial role in why people purchase what they purchase.
February 26, 2014
by Pricewaterhouse Coopers
TORONTO— Canadian consumers are looking for a full slate of shopping options, according to Total Retail: Customer Expectations Driving the Next Retail Business Model, released by PwC. Canadians want convenient physical store locations, websites that enable them to find and purchase products, and easy-to-use mobile sites or apps—and retailers need to adapt in order to compete.
Online shopping is here to stay– the survey shows that 87% of Canadian consumers shop online at least once a year, and nearly half (49%) do so on at least a monthly basis. When asked what they would do if their favorite retailer closed down their local store, 42% said they would start ordering online, showing that is a new willingness on the part of consumers to shift channels in order to get what they want. Furthermore, respondents cite the ability to shop from home and to shop 24/7 as reasons for purchasing online and, 55% of shoppers believe they can find better deals online than in-store.
Consumers expect a consistent experience, across all purchase channels
Canadian consumers still enjoy shopping at a physical store, citing the ability to see, touch and try the merchandise, and immediate access to products as the top benefits. In-store, consumers want technology to help enhance the shopping experience. The number one item on consumers’ wish lists is the ability to quickly check stock in other stores or online (47%). Consumers are also looking for sales associates who can take payment without going to the cash register (28%) and in-store Wi-Fi with fast, simple log-in (27%).
“The physical store still offers consumers that tangible aspect that cannot be replaced,” says Ilya Bahar, National Leader, Retail Consulting at PwC. “However, online channels enhance the shopping experience—ultimately, it doesn’t matter where or how consumers actually make their purchases, they want technology that provides them with convenience, easy access to information and a transparent, real-time view of the retailer’s inventory.”
Mobile shopping is growing
Mobile shopping is catching on with Canadian consumers. Almost a third (29%) have already used this platform to actually buy merchandise and even more are using it for other aspects of the purchase journey — for example, 85% of respondents have used their mobile device to compare prices with competitors, 84% to locate the physical store, and 87% to research the products. Canadians are worried about security and capability, however, as 38% state that they are worried about the security of mobile shopping platforms and 36% feel that the screens are too small for a proper shopping experience.
“Retailers need to ensure that they provide efficient and secure technology that maximizes a consistent and distinctive brand experience, while still maintaining trust amongst their customers,” says Bahar. “Customer expectations are high, and consistency, convenience and multi-faceted options are the keys to success in this new ‘Total Retail’ reality.”
Other highlights from the survey include:
- Retailer of choice: Canadian shoppers are increasingly keen to buy products from a select set of retailers. This year’s survey shows that 15% do their shopping with just one retailer, up from 6% last year, and nearly half (44%) shopped with between two and five retailers.
- Do you like me?: The top reason shoppers choose a retailer is that they trust the brand (83%), they like the products (81%) and the store usually has the item in-stock (81%).
- Shopping abroad from home: Online consumers shop online at the US or international counterpart of a retailer that has a Canadian online store because they cannot find the products they want online (53%) and because they feel the price is cheaper on the other site, even with shipping, customs and taxes included (50%).
About the survey: PwC’s International Survey Unit conducted the survey in July and August 2013 in 15 countries: Brazil, Canada,China/Hong Kong, France, Germany, India, Italy, Middle East, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland,Turkey, UK and US. Over 15,000 individuals participated in the survey, including 1,002 in Canada.
In the Canadian report, PwC outlines four key consumer expectations and provides business implications for retailers to help achieve the Total Retail model:
- A compelling brand story that promises a distinctive experience Retailers should better establish a strong brand promise and consistent experience across all channels in order to solidify a core of loyal customers.
- Customized offers based on totally protected, personal preferences and information Big data and predictive analytics will help retailers use customer data to increase marketing and sales effectiveness with customized digital coupons, exclusive content, and social media promotions, among others.
- An enhanced and consistent experience across all channels As screen sizes get bigger and more consumers obtain newer mobile devices, mobile shopping will likely accelerate. To prepare for this growth, a Total Retailer will need to have the technical agility to provide one seamless experience via PC, tablet, mobile phone, in app or web browser as well as in-store.
- Transparency, real time, into a retailer’s inventory in store and on-line Consumers are looking for actionable inventory information from retailers on how products are promised, tracked and delivered, pushing retailers to upgrade technology in their supply chain.