The four waves of disruption facing retailers

  • Opinion
  • June 2, 2015
  • Greg Doone
The four waves of disruption facing retailers

The retail environment has never been more complex as consumers continue to develop their own approach to researching and purchasing products, both online and in-store. Retailers are being left overstored, making lower margins and experiencing reduced profitability.

Retailers are facing four waves of disruption according to findings from PwC’s Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption, the eighth annual study in a series tracking changes in global consumers’ shopping preferences, and the biggest one yet: 19,000 online users representing 19 countries were surveyed.

Four waves of disruption

  1. The evolution of the store – While e-commerce sales are growing every year, the store isn’t dead yet. According to our survey, while 68 percent of our global sample say that they have browsed products at a store but decided to purchase them online, 70 percent of our global sample said that they have done just the opposite; that is, browsed products online but decided to purchase them in-store.

Shopkeepers and shops have been around for centuries, so it’s a pretty safe bet, mobile apps or not, that stores will still be around in very familiar forms for at least the next few decades. This year’s survey data strongly backs that up; in fact, in some areas we’ve found a strong bounce-back for the store from previous surveys.

  1. Mobile technology – Mobile is still a very small piece of the pie in terms of overall retail sales. But mobile phones are increasingly a critical factor in setting the stage for a purchase. Thirty percent of our global respondents have located stores, and a quarter have used coupons they received by mobile phone.

Companies and governments analysing trends with ‘big data’ has provided these organisations with exceptionally valuable insights. Today’s consumers can access their own versions of big data on their smartphones, and this capability has only scratched the surface. Improvements in data storage, near-field and GPS technologies and retailers’ abilities to recognise shoppers’ preferences are game-changers. The smartphone won’t be just something consumers can call or search with - it will be constantly searching on their behalf for the cheapest, greatest value, and most unique product.

  1. Social networks – When asked if their interactions on social media had led them to buy more, a total of 62 percent of our respondents answered either “Yes in most cases” (19 percent), or “Yes in some cases” (43 percent).

Optimising or integrating social with your site, particularly in its mobile web presence, investing to improve search engine rankings, and creating a focused social strategy may be the best approach for retailers who are innovating their social networks. Social media platforms are ideally suited for creating or supporting a brand, distributing great content, and providing the space to generate genuine word-of-mouth and viral buzz. Digital and display ads, on the other hand, reinforce consumer interest. Search platforms point to a strong desire to complete an actual transaction. To improve viability as a purchase destination, search engine optimisation should be invested in.

  1. Demographic shifts – Global ageing patterns show retailers can count on a large segment of global consumers who have a long track record of spending, and are intending to spend into the foreseeable future. Our survey also illustrates how ‘digital natives’ – those aged 18-24 – include mobile and social media as part of their shopping experience at a much higher rate than the rest of our survey respondents.

Interactions with favourite brands tend to make digital natives spend more on products and engage in mobile purchasing behaviours more often. The question remains whether they, together with the next wave of young, digitally-savvy shoppers, have the economic clout in the next few years to force retailers’ hands in how they view their business models. Although, it’s worth noting, these younger demographic behaviours have a track record of ‘infecting’ the more mature generations . The significant growth of ‘parental’ and ‘grandparental’ migration to Facebook over the last four years is a good indicator of this. Any store manager will tell you ‘showrooming’ in store is not just restricted to under 24 year olds.

As online shopping continues to grow at the expense of store visits, the premium in the future will be on creating unique, brand-defining experiences that keep customers coming back— whatever the channel. With the very real prospect of increasing tax on the 42 percent split of ecommerce purchases New Zealand consumers make on overseas sites, there is a real domestic imperative to focus energies on the digital.

This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 737, April/May 2015.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: How multi-level marketing works

The $200 million-plus direct sales economy contains many lessons retailers can use. As part of a wider look at this thriving corner of retail, we created a quick explainer showing how this business model typically works.

Read more

Direct sales: Meet the upliners

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the upliners

We profiled different participants in the direct sales industry to find out what retailers can learn from them. Meet Isagenix distributors Adam Nesbitt and Bianca Bathurst.

Read more

Direct sales: Meet the business builder

  • News
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Direct sales: Meet the business builder

As part of a wider story looking at what retailers can learn from the direct sales industry, we profiled Isagenix distributor Ben Frost.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Leveling up: Exploring multi-level marketing in New Zealand

Is the $200 million-plus direct sales economy retail by another name or something different? Regardless, what can we learn from it?


A spectrum of retailers

  • Opinion
  • April 18, 2019
  • David Farrell
A spectrum of retailers

In recognition of April being Autism Awareness Month, retail commentator Dave Farrell considers the role of those on the spectrum in retail.

Read more

How on-trend is your retail business?

  • Sponsored Content
  • April 18, 2019
  • Sponsored content
How on-trend is your retail business?

New insights from Visa highlight five evolving trends emerging from savvy retailers around the world. We’ve taken these global trends and looked at how they are playing out with merchants in New Zealand, and we’d now like to hear what you think of them.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit