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Tuesday, 07 July 2015 17:26

Growing confidence in online shopping brings demand for enhanced services Featured

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Growing confidence in online shopping brings demand for enhanced services Image courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net/images

Aussie consumers are becoming increasingly confident about shopping online and have a willingness to spend more, but they now expect retailers to offer digital solutions that enhance service and give more flexibility in areas such as returns and digital loyalty programs.

Along with the growing affinity for online shopping, however, the lack of personalised service offerings across a number of consumer touch points is driving a decline in engagement and loyalty to a retailer.

The newly released data from IBM’s 2015 Global Smarter Consumer study also reveals a growing gap between consumer expectations and what their primary retailers services delivery.

With expectations of more digital solutions to enhance their online shopping experience, the survey reveals that shoppers today are leaving retailers who fall short on delivering a seamless, in-store and online experience.

According to Anna McPhee, Retail Council, CEO, “All signs point to Australians embracing all aspects of digital.”

McPhee says this presents great opportunities and mounting pressure for retailers to deliver a “revolution in the shopping experience”, rather than incremental change.

“The convergence of digital and physical retail channels is being driven by consumer desire for more convenience, and it’s up to retailers to deliver a seamless service.

“Doing things smarter and faster requires agile thinking and organisations are working to improve mobile, online and in-store fulfillment,” McPhee stresses.

Ian Wong, Partner, Interactive Experience, IBM Australia and New Zealand says Australian shoppers want retailers to help them and serve them, and this ability to see if an item is in stock before a shopper goes to the store was among the “most appealing capabilities that would drive a consumer to switch.”

Wong points to the survey which reveals that 50% of consumers agreed they would switch to a retailer who could provide this information, and he says this signals a “huge opportunity for retailers to synchronise online and offline offerings for an enhanced shopping experience.”

And, consumers also expect retail assistants to be able to resolve inventory issues, with more than 50% of Australian respondents citing this capability as a differentiator in the selection of a retailer. Additionally, 25% of Australian respondents cited the importance for store staff to be able to offer personalised promotions based on purchase history or preferences as a differentiated and unique experience.

“This year’s survey indicates Australian retailers need to be more agile and adopt continuous change quickly to meet and exceed consumer expectations,” Wong suggests.

“It’s no coincidence that low advocacy ratings locally reflect a growing awareness among Australian shoppers for alternate channels available through retailers in the US, UK and elsewhere. This indicates an opportunity for growth for local retailers who can meet these consumer expectations.”

According to Wong, Australian customers’ favour a “know me” and “listen to me” approach, with the survey confirming they are increasingly comfortable with sharing their location, social media habits, mobile number and email information with a trusted retailer.

“With easy to use tools like the IBM Sales Assist app this puts important customer information into the hands of a retailer’s store assistant, empowering staff to deliver a more personalised, in-store experience for shoppers.  Leveraging insights from customer data merged with Social, Location and Mobile (SoLoMo) to personalise interactions, ensures relevancy and builds trust with each shopper.”

Looking to the future, Wong says the survey reveals that 30% of respondents indicated they would like to see the introduction of home sensors which could generate shopping lists automatically based on low stock, and 25% were interested in the ability to upload wardrobe pictures to receive purchase recommendations.

Other popular concepts included 3D shopping environments at home (25%), and subscription offerings to ship frequently purchased products automatically (24%).


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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