Riverbed®, The Digital Performance Company™, today announced the results of its Riverbed Retail Digital Trends Survey 2019, which explores insights and perspectives of consumers regarding the digital retail experience and what they desire from retailers to stay engaged, satisfied and loyal. The survey of 1,000 Australian consumers reveals that brick-and-mortar retailers are more apt to grow and maintain a loyal customer base if they invest in the digital experience they offer shoppers both online and in-store. A vast majority (87%) of Australian consumers say a positive digital shopping experience impacts brand loyalty just as much as their prices, and 79% believe brick-and-mortar retailers have a short, three-year window to provide shoppers with strong digital experiences in order to remain competitive. This is significantly higher than what retailers said in Riverbed’s 2018 survey of retail decision makes, which found only 56% of Australian retailers think their company will need to adopt new technology in the next three years to evolve and stay competitive.
“The Australian retail industry is going through a tremendous period of change, with retailers struggling to remain relevant to consumers in the ‘Amazon era’. With customer expectations continually on the rise, delivering a positive digital experience to consumers has never been more critical to retail success,” said Keith Buckley, VP of Riverbed Technology ANZ. “This doesn’t mean retailers must invest in every new technology that comes along, but what we are hearing is that near-term IT investments that boost the online and in-store experience will be the sweet-spot to giving customers the best experience possible. Overwhelmingly, investing in digital is proving to be a key driver to customer loyalty.”
Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Reboot with New Digital Experience Strategy
One of the biggest problems brick-and-mortar retailers face today is declining foot traffic, which is driving closures of physical stores. However, brick-and-mortar retailers have a huge opportunity to attract new customers to their stores, as 42% of Australian consumers say they have specifically visited a store for the first time because of the enjoyable online digital experience that the brand provided. That number jumps to 60% for Millennial shoppers.
When Australian consumers were asked to rank the three most important online features, the ability for sites/apps to load quickly (60%) is considered most important, followed by an appealing design including photos/videos (57%). The next most important online features include:
- 46% - Ability to shop online and pick-up instantly in-store
- 39% - Digital coupons, online rewards, and loyalty apps
- 37% - Access to consumer reviews
- 37% - Quick access to customer service via chat
- 25% - Interactive features that allow consumers to design or customise outfits, room designs, etc.
The 360-degree Digital Experience Consumers Want from Retailers
The digital experience for consumers doesn't start and end online, as consumers want brick-and-mortar retailers to offer in-store digital services and features that enhance the overall shopping experience. The most popular digital offerings that consumers typically take advantage of while shopping in-store include in-store Wi-Fi (30%), opting for digital receipts via email at check-out (24%), using a store-specific mobile app (22%), and using third-party mobile apps for things like digital coupons, discounts or price comparison shopping (18%).
However, getting consumers in the door for the first time will require investing in new digital technologies or spaces. Sixty-six percent of Australian consumers surveyed said at least one of the following digital or in-store experiences would appeal to them enough to shop at a brick-and-mortar store for the first time:
- 36% - Automated checkout sans sales associate
- 27% - “Smart” shelves with automatic sensors that maintain inventory
- 27% - Opening a “pop up” shop in a high traffic location
- 23% - Virtual or augmented reality
The survey found that Australian consumers are much more likely to shop for the first time at a retailer as a result of a pop-up store when compared to US and German shoppers, who cited 24% and 15% respectively.
Man vs. Machine to Influence Retail Wars
While the idea of drone delivery continues to make headlines, many Australians have split and differing opinions about it. While 40% are positive on drone delivery (22% say it’s cool and 18% think the concept is efficient), 60% are not (38% feel it’s unnecessary and 22% think it’s disturbing). However, 55% of millennials are positive on drone delivery, with 31% saying it’s cool, and 25% efficient.
For shoppers to be happier in-store over time, retailers will need to provide less, not more, human interaction. While, overall, 84% of consumers say they would like to interact with humans rather than technology at least for part of the shopping experience, the picture starts to shift when it comes down to specifics. For returns or help finding items in-store, 57% say they want to interact with humans rather than with technology. However, for making a purchase and getting shopping recommendations (or fashion advice), 58% and 67% respectively, would prefer to interact with technology versus humans. Sixteen percent said there is nothing they would rather interact with a human than a chatbot.
Retailers Beware - Deliver a Poor Digital Experience and Consequences Will Follow
There is nothing worse than an unhappy customer, and 67% of Australian shoppers that had poor digital shopping experiences have taken some form of action as a result:
- 40% - Decided to shop at a different store
- 37% - Told family and friends about the negative experience
- 27% - Contacted customer service with feedback
- 21% - Returned an item they had purchased
- 17% - Posted negative reviews online
While consumers want great digital experiences, they are cautious when it comes to stores using their personal data to deliver a more customised experience. A majority (66%) prefer not to sacrifice their personal data and receive a less tailored service, while 34% are willing to give up data for a more personalised experience.
The Riverbed Retail Digital Trends Survey 2019 is the result of a custom online survey completed in early January 2019 by Wakefield Research with 3,000 consumers from across the United States, Australia, and Germany (1,000 in each country). Riverbed, headquartered in San Francisco, enables retailers to transform the customer’s digital shopping experience by optimising their online and in-store channels, providing next-gen infrastructure to rapidly deploy new retail locations and the delivery of apps and digital services, and tools to manage and monitor the customer’s digital experience. Among Riverbed’s 30,000+ customers are 100% of the world’s Top 10 retailers.
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Riverbed®, The Digital Performance Company™, enables organisations to maximise digital performance across every aspect of their business, allowing customers to rethink possible. Riverbed’s unified and integrated Digital Performance Platform™ brings together a powerful combination of Digital Experience, Cloud Networking and Cloud Edge solutions that provides a modern IT architecture for the digital enterprise, delivering new levels of operational agility and dramatically accelerating business performance and outcomes. At more than $1 billion in annual revenue, Riverbed’s 30,000+ customers include 98% of the Fortune 100 and 100% of the Forbes Global 100. Learn more at riverbed.com.
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