The main theme of Online Retailer NZ, which took place at Auckland’s Aotea Centre on October 22, was how retail technology has transformed the way people browse, interact and shop.
Today's consumers are satisfied with their current shopping experiences; they are loyal to the retailer, love technology, research more intensely and shop in fewer places. These are the main findings of ‘Omnishopper 2016’, a global survey conducted by Mastercard, which aims to define behaviours and attitudes of consumers who purchase both online and offline across 10 countries, including China.
"It is the consumer, not the channel, that has defined and will continue to define retailing," says Jamie Samaha. Samaha is loyalty solutions and managing director of Mastercard company Pinpoint and was in Auckland to introduce Omnishopper 2016.
The modern consumer has become smart and confident. Eighty percent of the survey’s respondents consider themselves smarter shoppers than two years ago and 70 percent admit that they get more value from their purchases.
The store is still at the heart of shopping. Sixty-two percent of survey respondents prefer to shop in physical stores because they get their product quickly, and 51 percent think that they receive good recommendations from staff.
"The omnishopper goes to physical locations for the entertainment value, social interaction and immediate gratification," says Samaha. Consumers shop in-store because they want more certainty about product quality, delivery and security. Nearly 50 percent like to touch product, 37 percent want to avoid shipping costs and 29 percent don't want to wait for delivery.
The omnishopper uses technology to discover a wider variety of products and to compare and learn more about choices. Sixty-two percent of the survey’s respondents say that they are doing more research before buying than they did two years ago. Better information is the goal of 45 percent who research online before shopping, and 31 percent think user reviews are more reliable.
The focus of omnishoppers’ research is not price, but value. They’re looking for a fair price and high quality. In fact, when asked to indicate the most important factors in making a purchase, discounts and promotions came up behind price/quality, product specs, payment options and user reviews.
Consumers are comfortable with what they know and they are loyal. Seventy-four percent like to stay with retailers they have bought from before.
However, results are a bit different when it comes to China, the world's largest ecommerce market. "There is a significant difference in attitude towards merchant affinity and technology," says Samaha.
Change in business models and retail environments has been fast, furious and very dynamic. But there has been one constant in retailing since the ecommerce explosion in the late 90s: the customer.