According to research unveiled January 14, convenience is the key factor for the future of retail and Click & Collect is leading the charge: around one in five (18%) believe that the service ‘changed the way they shopped’ last year, beating mobile phones, tablets and smartwatches, while more than a quarter (26%) say it’s making the high street better.
The research delivered a positive outlook for the high street – 65% of respondents stated they visited the high street either about the same in 2015 or a little more or much more, and 27% said there is more value in the UK high street. However, shoppers were clear about the areas they think retailers should focus their attention on in 2016: cheaper prices (53% said so), better quality products (44%) and better customer experience in-store (34%).
The State of Retail 2016 report was commissioned by retail marketing specialist Live & Breathe, asking 1,000 UK consumers for their views. The research confirmed that the high street is more important than ever, but shoppers are clear on the areas that need improving about the in-store experience:
- ‘A better in-store experience’ was the third most popular choice for areas that shoppers think retailers should focus on in 2016, behind only cheaper prices and better products
- Almost half (45%) say parking on the high street is getting worse – an ongoing battle for shoppers
- The number one complaint about shopping malls, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and coffee shops was that they were too busy with too-long queues
Viv Craske, head of innovation & digital at Live & Breathe, comments: “In 2016 retail marketers have a choice to make: whether we believe in the high street as a cornerstone in the future of retail, or whether we swallow the popular narrative of the last five years that it’s doomed and that everyone is shopping online. In our view, the high street is more important than ever before. The high street versus online shopping is a false dichotomy. Yes, people are shopping more and more online, but they’re still shopping on the high street.”
By comparison, the survey also found that half of shoppers (50%) say online shopping is becoming more convenient and 45% find that it’s delivering better value than ever. Furthermore, 6% (up to 12% among those aged 35-44) bought via a mobile device for the first time ever in 2015.
“People want more convenience and less hassle, which is why online is growing. From the high street, shoppers want a great in-store experience and currently this isn’t being delivered,” continues Craske.
“By the same token, our expectations on retailers and the retail experience are so high that we’re becoming quite black and white about what we want. Retailers have tried to address the in-store experience this by bringing technology on to the shop floor to try and marry the digital and offline experience, but it feels like this still isn’t enough for shoppers.”
Craske concludes: “Click & Collect offers one way for the high street to reclaim some lost ground, because it’s clearly a service that’s very much in demand. However, retailers need to understand that shoppers expect a seamless experience that crosses every channel – and their in-store offering and service has to match and support what people get on digital or mobile.”
“There is also the question of what people want versus what is realistic to deliver. Shoppers want Click & Collect, they also want same-day delivery and there’s a hunger for that service to be free, but are they prepared to pay more for their goods and what impact would that have on the whole supply chain? These are questions retailers will have to face in 2016.”