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Choice of shopping channel counts: research

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The freedom to choose to shop online or offline makes for the best shopping experience for more than a quarter of UK consumers, new research has found.

BT’s Lighting up the High Street study, which quizzed 100 retail managers and 2,000 consumers, found that 27% of consumers said they needed the choice of shopping channel in order to have the most rewarding experience.

Some 74% said having a safe and secure transaction was the most important issue for them, while 62% rated a wide variety of choice. Almost half (49%) rated a hassle-free transaction, 44% a quick and smooth transaction, and 41% flexible delivery options. And 18% said they needed to be able to use technology, such as a mobile phone or laptop, in order to shop in the way that best suited them.

When they were asked to identify appealing ways of improving shopping, 68% of consumers chose new ways of shopping, and 48% would opt for deals and incentives tailored to their needs. Some 27% would like free in-store wi-fi that they could access from their mobile phone, while 26% would like to be able to scan product barcodes with their smartphones, in order to get them delivered to their door. Such technological innovations were more likely to appeal to younger shoppers, while women aged 35-44 found the option of flexible delivery more attractive.

From the retailers’ point of view, 48% of those who currently only sell in-store saw a benefit to selling across a number of channels, as did 16% of those who only sell from a distance.

However, 92% of retailers say they face barriers when it comes to improving the shopping experience – most commonly the limited budgets cited by 74% of retailers.

Emer Timmons, president, BT Global Services UK, said: “We know British retailers would love to give their shoppers the most rewarding and enjoyable experience possible, but companies operating on the high street are facing some of the toughest challenges of any sector during the current economic climate. They have to prioritise their technology investment so that it delivers to the bottom line and it is no surprise something like operational efficiency comes at the top of their list. Ultimately they know that fulfilling customer demands leads to sales growth and increased revenue.”

BT’s research was published alongside the launch of its new Lighting up the High Street technology.

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