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Three in four shoppers expect to do most of their shopping online in a decade

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Three in four (75%) shoppers think they’ll do most of their shopping online in a decade, according to research.

By then, finds a study from Savvy Marketing, commissioned by BBC Radio 4, 60% believe the high street will not exist as it does today – with more than 80% of the 1,000 shoppers who were questioned agreeing that retailers of all sizes will need to sell online.

Already, found the study, 95% of adults that have access to the internet have shopped online at least once in the past six months, while nearly half of UK shoppers buy online at least once every two weeks, buying physical goods or downloading digital products.

Alastair Lockhart, insight director at Savvy, said: “The retail world is playing catch-up with how today’s – and tomorrow’s – shoppers are wanting to interact with them. The tech-savvy generation have high expectations and retailers need to inspire shoppers both in-store and online whilst providing all the necessary product information to help convert sales.”

So what expectations do shoppers have around the way they buy? Right now, the study found, 42% have accessed a retailer’s website via search engines, while 57% say returns policies will encourage them to shop online – though only 37% have done so. Social media posts have inspired 24% to buy, while a YouTube video has inspired 20%, and 19% cite links sent via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger as being influential in their shopping decisions. More than a third (38%) use smartphones in store – eight in 10 (81%) own one – while 67% of households have a tablet. As yet, more people have used a laptop to buy (76%) than a smartphone – used by around half of respondents.

Then, 59% say they don’t visit traditional stores as much as they used to because of online shopping, while 40% believe their local high street has declined in the last two to four years, compared to the fifth of UK shoppers who believe it has improved. Some 79% think physical retailers need to do more to attract shoppers to their stores – but 91% believe there will always be a place for the store.

Looking to the future, virtual reality seems likely to play a part in retail – 46% of the 18 to 24-year-olds questioned said they would be interested in shopping through VR headsets, and 54% of all respondents said they thought virtual reality would be commonplace in 10 years time.

“There’s no doubt about it,” said Lockhart, demographic shifts, improving technology and retail innovation will ensure the continuing growth of online retailing, but reassuringly, the high street and shopping centres will still have a role – albeit a different one – to play. The bottom line however, is that retailers can ill-afford to stand still and rely on a long standing customer base. Instead, they must evolve with the times and reinvent themselves.”

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