MILTON KEYNES, UK, and BAY SHORE, NY – 5 NOVEMBER 2014 – New research has fired a warning to high street retailers, with 63% of consumers admitting they prefer to shop online.
The study by retail technology specialist Tensator Group also saw 83% of shoppers saying they believe more stores will be forced to close their doors due to lack of customer visits unless they significantly up their game.
When quizzed about their preference for online retailing, 48% said they liked the fact they did not have to stand in a queue, 42% found it cheaper than shopping on the high street and 29% expressed the fact that they simply did not have the time to visit an actual store.
In another blow to high street retailers, the survey also uncovered a worrying trend amongst those consumers who do actually make it into a ‘bricks and mortar’ store.
Out of almost 400 consumers polled, a staggering 86% said that they have used a store to view a product before purchasing online – a technique known as ‘showrooming’. In addition, 68% admitted to using their phone to check the price of an item online before deciding whether to purchase in-store.
Overall, 89% of shoppers felt that high street retailers needed to make changes to the overall shopping experience to compete with their online counterparts.
“Consumers are sending a very clear message to retailers,” commented Alan McPherson, CEO of Tensator Group. “The online vs offline debate has raged on for a number of years, but these new figures put things into perspective. Retailers need to be looking carefully at the overall customer experience to lure them away from behind their computer screens.
“It’s obvious from our research that customers are not finding in-store shopping an enjoyable or engaging experience and, even when they are in-store, their attention is drifting towards their mobile phones.
“Retailers need to look at bringing the convenience of online shopping in-store and make the customer experience efficient, stress-free and captivating.
“Only recently, we’ve seen data that suggests stores are closing at a rate of 16 per day, which is a total of 3,003 stores across 500 main shopping centres during the first half of 2014*. Unless retailers start to address some of the issues uncovered in our report, I’m genuinely concerned that the closure rate will get even higher.”
Michael Sheridan is chairman of global retail design agency Sheridan&Co, which has offices in London, New York and Shanghai, and works with some of the biggest names in retail. For him, the findings of the Tensator Group report make for interesting reading:
“I was obviously aware that these problems existed, but some of the extremely high numbers that this research has uncovered is staggering.
“For me, many shops lack overall experience. Customers don’t feel wowed anymore, they don’t feel special and they don’t get excited about the prospect of shopping like they used to. It’s no longer escapism and, for many, it’s become a chore that they don’t have time for. It’s no wonder they are turning to their laptops and phones.
“We almost need to look back to some of the good old fashioned values of customer service and engagement and bring some of the drama and theatre back into retail. The challenge is to find new, innovative ways to do this.
“Retailers need to ensure customers leave the store with a smile on their face and it’s clear from this data that this isn’t happening at the moment.”
*PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).