Online shopping is an increasingly common staple of life with more and more shopping being completed online globally. But is the common adage that “people avoid malls” or “parking is a nightmare” really stacking up? Recent developments overseas suggest that the tide may be turning back towards more traditional forms of retail – well at least traditional in some ways, but very different in others.
Amazon in the US, for example, is looking to open over 300 physical book stores – a stark contrast to the idea that retail buildings have a limited future.
Armed with these insights, we decided to focus our next Newmarket Poll on this topic – “Bricks – do you prefer to shop in-store?” or “Clicks – do you prefer to shop online?” The pollsters covered a wide demographic ranging in age, ethnicity, socio-economic status and opinion. This, our second Newmarket survey, elicited over 500 responses.
Our results revealed that 344 respondents, or 67 percent, preferred to shop in a physical store, compared to 170 respondents (33 percent) who would rather make purchases online.
Comments about in-store purchasing included a “preference to see products first hand,” which rang particularly true for fashion apparel where “online clothing can be very different to the images on websites or in apps.”
As is the case for Amazon, while these stores will sell physical books, customers will also be introduced to the entire Amazon ecosystem. In short, consumers can do a whole lot more than just buy books – that’s the clincher, that’s their point of difference.
So it’s fair to say the retail landscape is evolving at a rate of knots. Some retailers are even integrating both online and in-store elements to engage the customer. For example, a new virtual store in Korea allows you to choose the products you want to purchase by scanning a barcode from a virtual wall of products. All the items get added to your cart and then the goods get shipped to your home straight away. Is this potentially a model NZ Post could look at to rebuild their business? It’s at least food for thought anyway.
What’s important to note is that the opportunities are there for retailers to leverage new tech tools to complement the more traditional approach to shopping.
Ben Goodale, managing director of award-winning one-to-one marketing agency justONE, echoed this sentiment.
“Fundamentally Kiwi shoppers love the tangibility of being at the shops – it is a form of recreation after all – but increasingly the online environment allows people to be better informed about their buying intention before hitting the shops… And that’s not a bad thing.”
First and foremost retailers need to make sure that they’re listening to what their customers want, but those that can offer an omnichannel solution integrating both the in-store experience with online purchasing, will no doubt be onto a winning formula.
Newmarket Business Association will be conducting fortnightly polls on various themes, designed to tap into the sentiment of its residential, commuter and worker populations.