With three quarters (74%) of European consumers saying they have no plans to scale back their online shopping habits developed over the past 18 months, physical and omni-channel retailers sit up and listen – with 75% of businesses saying that is where they plan to invest.
Data from Checkout.com points to 74% of shoppers now being wedded to the convenience of online, but retailers too have become just as reliant on it – not least because they have invested rapidly and heavily in it.
But what are retailers planning to do? According to the Checkou.com research 97% say that to remain relevant, resilient and profitable, they will need to evolve their business models within the next 18 months.
Of them, a quarter (25%) say they are creating new local fulfilment centres to meet demand, whilst half (50%) have responded to increased cross-border demand since the start of the crisis by expanding the range of payment methods they offer.
A second report out this week, this time from Klarna and Visualsoft, backs this up, showing positive signs that retailers are planning to invest in-store and hoping to reignite demand through closer digital integration.
The vast majority (88%) of retailers are taking steps to ensure a smoother and more seamless omnichannel experience for consumers, meaning customers will be able to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue their buying journey on another.
More than a quarter (28%) of retailers plan to make customer profiles available across all channels including providing access for in-store staff and linking inventory to create an endless aisle (27%).
With the high street seemingly set to remain a core aspect in driving a great customer experience, over half (56%) of brands believe today’s technology will act as the crucial link in allowing customer experiences to be replicated online.
Other ways retailers are responding involve everything from rethinking their apps strategy, to investing in AI to tapping into sustainability mores. For example, Co-op worked with Apadmi to refine how its uses its app to drive loyalty and membership of the collective, with stunning results – results that translate into better engagement on and offline.
Luxury retail group LVMH is working with Google Cloud to create AI-driven personal shopping experiences, while Asda and, again, the Co-op are looking at trialling self-refill grocery selling to help drive more users to stores and cut packaging waste.
All this chimes well with some of the tips in this week’s Guest Comment from Joanne Joliet, Head of Worldwide Fashion & Apparel at Amazon Web Services, who outlines just how there kinds of technologies – along with those that also promote health and safety (never has that phrase mattered more) – to make stores the digitally-enhanced destinations that shoppers now demand.