Tech, ambience and sustainability are what in-store shoppers want

Creating the right atmosphere, incorporating the right digital technology and committing to sustainability are key to tapping into a continued appetite for consumers to shop in-store.

So finds a study of more than 12,000 shoppers across the UK, US, France, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and China, by Mood Media. 

The report also found that 30% of UK consumers are shopping in-store more often now than two years ago, and 40% are shopping in-store at the same level.

Forty six per cent of consumers say their desire for in-person shopping is rooted in getting their hands on purchases instantly, and 34% enjoy the element of discovery when shopping brick and mortar. Shopping as a leisure activity with friends and family was the third most cited reason for in-person visits (28%).

“There is no longer a debate over whether people will return to physical retail after the pandemic,” says Scott Moore, Global CMO at Mood Media. “They’ve returned. Now we must focus on how best to tap into continued demand for digitally enabled and ambience-rich, in-person experiences.”

What the right atmosphere can do

Key to the report findings, more than two thirds of shoppers (71%) will prioritise brick-and-mortar shopping over ecommerce given a pleasant in-store atmosphere. And once in store, 72% of shoppers reveal a pleasant atmosphere would make them stay longer and 82% visit again. 36% of consumers globally say music in-store lifts their mood when shopping, while 33% feel that a pleasant scent does the same.

The evolving role of digital in-store

More than a third of shoppers now expect stores to invest in digital payment and self-service technology, 41%, as well as interactive screens, 37%, that allow them to explore ranges and customise services or products 39%.

The metaverse is intriguing to UK shoppers with 33% expecting retailers to provide information on how to visit the retailer’s store in the metaverse or other virtual space.

Phygital, the merging of the physical and digital environments, is equally important with 38% shoppers expecting interactive digital screens or tablets to provide in-store access to all the same search and discovery tools that are available online.

“As consumers return to brick-and-mortar stores in full force, what we see is that they’re coming back with evolved shopping habits and expectations. They now increasingly see both online and offline as part of the same purchase journey (not one versus the other), and due to their growing comfort levels in the online space they now expect similar levels of digital technology solutions as an integral part of the physical space,” says Moore.

Take action on sustainability

Retailer sustainability is a driving factor for shoppers globally, with 57% shoppers indicating that these practices impact their willingness to stay longer, return to the store, tell friends and buy more.

Nearly half of shoppers, 42%, want to be educated on the environmental qualities and characteristics of goods being sold. More than half of shoppers (55%) expect retailers to provide recycling options in-store, and most shoppers want to see retailers reduce their energy usage by closing doors to air-conditioned spaces, 46%, enclosing refrigerated spaces and turning off display lights when closed, 43%.

Consumers are ready to walk the talk and reward retailers for acting on sustainable practices with 56% of shoppers globally saying sustainability-minded retailers would make them more likely to want to buy something.

How shoppers around the world differ 

According to the report, US and French consumers are leading the return to the high street with 48% and 44% of consumers going in-store more than two years ago, vs. 38% global average. Shoppers in China. Meanwhile, lead on tech ambitions and a desire for sustainable practices. 85% want to see self-service digital technology, AR and VR, vs. a 57% global average. 85% also want sustainable retail practices, vs. a 66% global average.

German shoppers are most likely to turn their sustainable convictions into purchases. 67% say they are more likely to buy from sustainable-minded retailers vs. a 59% global average, while French shoppers lead Europe in wanting retailers to take environmental action. 65% want stores to both close doors on air-conditioned shops and turn off lights when closed, 57% vs. 54% global average. They also lead Europe on wanting to see recycling options in stores, 66% vs 61% global average.

Shoppers in Spain do not like to queue in stores and are most put off by waiting in line, 63%, compared to 58% in the UK and 56% in France. Spain also leads the survey on wanting stores to exchange items for both in-store and online purchases, 40% vs a global average of 32%.

Longer dwell times are the result of sales spaces that incorporate branded music playlists and scents. The top three countries where shoppers say they are most likely to stay longer when music and scent are in place are Germany, 61%, Spain, 59%, and the US, 57%).

“Mood Media’s latest study shows how vital it is to balance digital with physical in stores today. Shoppers still expect a pleasant atmosphere, with good lighting, music and things to touch and see. Knowledgeable staff and the ability to buy instantly or collect online orders cannot be understated, too. But the rising importance of digital technology for self-service, engagement and interaction, and the adoption of sustainable practices and products have a fast-growing role to play in shoppers’ choice of store, buying intent and frequency,” says Knights.

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