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Four ways shopper behaviour is changing

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The latest retail trends are mapped in two reports out this week. John Lewis’ Retail Report 2019, now in its seventh year, shows how its customers opted to buy over the last year, while the third edition of Salesforce’s Connected Shoppers Report points to how shoppers are buying, according to its survey of more than 10,000 shoppers around the world – including 501 in the UK and Ireland.  Here’s our summary of their key findings. 

Customers are opting for convenient shopping options

John Lewis saw more customers turning to their smartphones to buy, with visits to its website from mobile  reaching 54% in the last 12 months, up by 12% compared to last year. Meanwhile, 57% of online orders were delivered via click and collect, as shoppers opted to get their goods on the go. 

Salesforce, meanwhile says that 90% of British and Irish shoppers now buy from a combination of retailers, brands and online marketplaces, meaning that shopper now looks nothing like it used as shoppers go in search of what works best for them. Around the world, 18% of online shopping is now from brand websites and apps, says the Salesforce study, while 47% of shopping is via marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Jamie Merrick, director of strategic solutions at Salesforce, said the report highlighted the “importance of convenience and the growing maturity of propositions to give retailers a competitive edge.” He added: “Regardless of the channels they are using, the success of retailers still relies on having the right strategy in place when it comes to their product, pricing and service offering.”

Shoppers use the channels that work best for them right then

The Salesforce study suggested that shoppers use an average of eight channels to communicate with brands and says that 20% of UK and Irish shoppers use a mobile wallet, 10% social media and 2% messaging apps in order to buy. British shoppers have an average of two shopping apps on their mobile device – and, around the world, 26% of online sales took place via apps. “The nirvana for retailers is having a 360-degree view which gives them visibility of every touchpoint,” said Merrick. 

John Lewis aimed to bring its beauty hall experience onto the app with its Virtual Lipstick Experience, powered by augmented reality (AR). Sienne Veit, director of digital at John Lewis, said the app was a real ‘wow’ moment for customers, since it “really helps customers make the right lipstick choice that suits them.” She added: “Many customer don’t like trying on lipsticks in shops for hygiene reasons. Based on its positive reception we’re now exploring more complex augmented reality series to hep customers visual furniture items in their own space.”

Stores remain key for retailers and their customers

John Lewis says it will continue to invest in the in-store customer experience in its 50 shops where it now has 29 style studios and 13 experience desks. Shoppers can get advice in its beauty studios, or, if they have at least £10,000 to spend, take advantage of after hours private shopping experiences. They can also use virtual reality (VR) in its Kingston, Cambridge and Horsham stores to visualise how home furnishings would fit into their space, and, from this month, visit its first service-led World of Design, in its Peterborough store.

“We believe that having a physical shopping destination creates human connections and builds trust, particularly at John Lewis & Partners, where our partners have dedicated training and knowledge to offer specialist advice and personalised support,” said Simon Coble, trading director at John Lewis & Partners. “A growing range of services are at the heart of what we offer, designed to meet the individual needs of customers and embrace the fun of shopping. Offering the ability to delight customers with immersive experiences and make their purchases more meaningful is where bricks triumph over clicks.”

The Salesforce report suggests that shoppers want to feel understood and special. It says 46% of the British and Irish people it questioned tended to shop with a specific brand in mind – and that exclusive shopping experiences and promotions could help companies build loyalty among their customers. Bricks and mortar stores, it says, remain relevant as hubs for discovery, experience and fulfilment. It found UK and Irish respondents shopped in store to touch and feel merchandise, to get hold of goods quickly, and for the the overall in-store experience. It also says that while shoppers are 2.4 times more likely to buy an item for the first time from a store, if they buy it again they will do so online, most likely from a marketplace.

Rise of sustainability

Shoppers, said John Lewis, bought more reusable water bottles (+15% in the run-up to Glastonbury week), as well as travel mugs, lunch boxes, reusable straws (+1,573%) and portable cutlery (+176%) in what appears to be evidence of a cultural move away from single use plastics. 

Image courtesy of John Lewis

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