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In-store experience is the key to saving High Street stores, according to consumers

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Consumers may well be increasingly shopping online, but they like stores and would visit them more if they got the experience they want therein, especially for high-value purchases.

A study of more than 2000 UK consumers by Divido, a multinational white-label platform for point of sale lending, reveals that just 7% of Brits browse exclusively in-store before making a high-value purchase (identified as costing over £250) – putting pressure on the value of bricks and mortar stores in the UK. 

While this might reinforce the notion that the future of retail is only online, all is not lost for the high-street. More than a quarter (28%) of consumers like to go in-store to look at an item before making a high-value purchase, while almost a third (32%) are happy with just having the option to complete a transaction in-store, suggesting the high street remains an integral part of the buying process.

The research also highlights spending influences, with social media promotion surprisingly having limited influence on consumers. In fact, UK shoppers are twice as likely to be influenced by friends and family over what they see being promoted on social media; just 30% state social media promotion affects buying decisions. Meanwhile, the availability of different finance options is becoming more appealing for Brits, with 17% highlighting that this is an important factor when making high-value purchases.

“The continued growth of online means that retailers are now realising that their stores must excel if they are to attract and retain customers,” says Andrew Busby, Founder and CEO of Retail Reflections. “Whilst we enjoy researching high-value purchases online, we also value a great in-store experience where we can interact, touch and feel the product before we make the final purchase decision”.

By mapping the journey of what consumers go through when purchasing high-value items, the research shows what retailers need to offer consumers in exchange for brand loyalty. Almost two thirds (61%), said they would remain loyal to a retailer if the payment process was easy, and a further 36% would shop again with a retailer if they offered point-of-sale finance – i.e. the ability to spread the cost of high-value purchases over a number of months rather than a one-off cost. 

“UK consumers have finally had their voices heard when it comes to the changing nature of the UK high street,” comments Christer Holloman, CEO and Co-Founder of Divido. “Choice is what drives their decision-making – whether that’s where they buy, how they buy or what they buy. Only those retailers that understand the changing nature of consumer spending around high-value purchases will be the ones that thrive in the future – be it online or on the high street”.

This chimes with other studies out this week that suggest that mobile-based cashier-less checkout is something that shoppers want and whichmany retailers are currently ignoring. Amazon has become the by-word for using tech to revamp the in-store experience with its Amazon Go cashier-less stores and it too is now experimenting with how to offer its technology to other retailersto modernise their in-store experiences.

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