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How British shoppers are buying across channels: study

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Shops remain important for customers who in turn are becoming ever more knowledgeable thanks to the online research they’ve carried out before they even arrive in a retail store, new data suggests. New cross-channels patterns of shopping and researching are even more apparent during the Christmas rush, finds the Connected Shoppers Report 2017 from Salesforce .

Some 95% of UK shoppers say they like going into a store for the ability to touch and feel merchandise (59%) and for the ability to buy items straightaway, according to the research, for which Harris Poll questioned 1,043 UK adults, including 529 millennials, 530 generation Xers, and 737 baby boomers, as well as similar cohorts in Germany, France and the Netherlands. But at the same time as buying in store, the study found that UK shoppers like to research and buy online: the study found that 23% of millennials buy over the internet while they’re in a bricks and mortar store.

Some 77% say they research products before buying from a retailer in-store, while 84% research products before buying online.

At Christmas, many UK shoppers (88% of those questioned) move online to avoid physical stores as they look to get away from crowds (79%) and traffic (43%) while enjoying the convenience of online shopping (46%). But only 3% of UK adults plan to do most of their Christmas shopping on Black Friday and 2% to do it on Cyber Monday. This year 56% plan to do at least half of their holiday shopping online – and more than half of UK adults would always avoid shopping in-store on Black Friday (57%), Christmas/Boxing Day (59%) and New Year’s Day (56%). This year, 15% of UK shoppers plan to do most of their shopping before November 1, while 35% plan to do most of their Christmas shopping in the first two weeks of December. More than nine in ten (91%) of UK adults use or have used Amazon to buy items, with 56% of UK consumers doing so because of product affordability. Some 70% of Amazon customers plan to buy the same amount or more gifts during this Christmas holiday period.

Most (83%) UK shoppers said they felt retailers are changing how they do business to keep up with current shopping habits/preferences, while more than half (53%) say they like retailers offering recommendations based on their purchasing history, and 45% would be willing to share data about their preferences in order to get faster in-store service. That figure’s higher among millennials (60%) but lower among baby boomers (32%).

As yet, however 61% of shoppers say retail experiences are disconnected across channels, and 65% that retailers don’t really know who they are. Almost half (47%) say store staff don’t have the tools they need to give an excellent customer experience, while half (50%) said they typically know more about a product than the store associae, and 35% said they thought robots could replace store staff.

“The reality,” said Chris Wood, director of retail at Salesforce, “is that retailers still have a lot of work to do to please customers. Three in five (61%) of Brits feel customer experiences are still disconnected from channel to channel, and nearly two thirds (65%) believe that retailers don’t really know us. In addition, 58% of shoppers admit to feeling overwhelmed with marketing communications during the holiday season.”

Millennials are keen to see artificial intelligence arriving, with 29% welcoming the prospect compared to 12% of baby boomers. Some 19% of UK shoppers said they would use AI to search products either in a store or online using an image, while, looking to other technology, 16% find mobile wallets appealing (26% among millennials) 20% of millennials would welcome having their shopping delivered by drone, compared to only 6% of baby boomers.

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