As the world evolves, it’s no surprise that the way people shop is changing. The internet has completely changed how people buy products, and physical stores face challenges to stay relevant. A recent Scanbot SDK report, “State of Multichannel Retail 2023: Exploring US Consumer Preferences and Expectations,” provides UK retailers with a roadmap to success. In this guest comment, we’ll explore the key takeaways and offer advice for retailers looking to compete.
The key findings
The survey, conducted in April 2023, asked 1,000 US consumers about their shopping habits and preferences. The findings highlight the importance of multichannel retail and reveal that consumers don’t view online and physical stores as an either-or decision.
The majority of respondents (51.1%) indicated they would choose to buy goods online if they had to choose between online and in-store shopping. Millennials were the most likely to prefer online shopping (59.92%), while Baby Boomers and Gen Xers preferred physical stores (59.79%). Surprisingly, Gen Z was almost evenly split, with a slight preference for physical stores.
Of the respondents, 55.1% identified convenience as the main benefit of online shopping, while 50.6% said they preferred to physically interact with the product before buying it in a store. Almost half of the participants (48.8%) reported that out-of-stock products were the biggest annoyance while shopping in physical stores. In addition, the vast majority (83.1%) had used a retailer’s mobile app at least once, and 82.4% had used Scan & Go or were willing to try it.
The importance of multichannel retail
The survey results demonstrate the importance of multichannel retail. To stay competitive, UK retailers must offer a seamless experience across online and physical channels. This means integrating both approaches and creating a consistent brand experience. Customers expect flexibility in choosing where and how to shop, and retailers must adapt to meet these needs.
Advice for UK Retailers
- Embrace Mobile Technology: The survey revealed that the vast majority of respondents had used a retailer’s mobile app at least once. Therefore, UK retailers should invest in mobile technology and consider integrating Scan & Go technology to enhance the in-store experience.
- Provide a Consistent Brand Experience: Online and offline channels should provide customers with a consistent experience. This means creating a seamless omnichannel experience with clear messaging, branding, and product offerings.
- Keep Inventory Management in Mind: Out-of-stock products are a major annoyance for customers. UK retailers should implement effective inventory management practices to ensure products are available when customers want to purchase them.
- Leverage Personalization: Personalization is key to creating a successful multichannel strategy. Retailers should use customer data to personalize the shopping experience across all channels.
- Emphasize Convenience: Convenience is a significant benefit of online shopping, and UK retailers should leverage this to enhance the in-store experience. This means offering alternative checkout methods, such as Scan & Go, to reduce queue times.
The Scanbot SDK survey reveals that consumers don’t view online and physical stores as an either-or decision. UK retailers must adapt to changing consumer preferences and provide a seamless multichannel experience. Retailers can stay competitive and thrive in a changing retail landscape by embracing mobile technology, providing a consistent brand experience, keeping inventory management in mind, leveraging personalization, and emphasizing convenience.
Max Stratmann is Chief Revenue Officer at Scanbot SDK, a world leader in mobile barcode scanning