Key findings from Total Retail survey of online shoppers

Today’s consumers have raised the bar for retailers. Multichannel shopping is a given -- the price of admission into the conversation. Within our data we’ve unearthed eight customer expectations that transcend geography and product category, and will require that retailers evaluate their business model from top to bottom.

A compelling brand story that promises a distinctive experience

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • 15% of our sample shopped with just one retailer in the past year
  • #1 reason people shop at their favourite retailers: “ trust the brand”

What does this mean for retailers:

To help strengthen a brand, change how that brand is communicated, both internally and externally

  • Engage in consistent conversations with customers
  • Instill the brand message to employees through hiring and training
  • Invest in a dedicated social media staff to run campaigns and competitions and respond to customer comments left on social media
  • Engage in less traditional, expensive print advertising versus digital and advertising and guerilla marketing

Hear from our retail and consumer industry leaders:

Reggie Walker, PwC US Partner, discusses how shoppers are likely to use social media in the future.

Customised offers based on totally protected, personal preferences and information

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • 66% of our sample used a coupon received via smartphone
  • 21% visited a retailer's or brand's social media site because of a personalised offer, up from 9% in our previous survey
  • For our survey respondents that did not purchase items online, 43% said that they were worried about the security of their personal data"

What does this mean for retailers:

A balance between customisation and security

  • Protect against potential cyber-attacks by increasing defenses on customer databases
  • Enable personalised offerings, payments and loyalty programs consistently offered in all channels
  • Build integrated customer databases that offer a single, coordinated view of the customer and his or her information

Hear from our retail and consumer industry leaders:

Tom Johnson, PwC US Partner, talks about the issues with security and shopping online -- and what retailers need to do to ensure a safe customer experience.

An enhanced and consistent experience across all devices

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • Customers are increasingly become multi-device users
  • PC is still the preferred method of online purchasing, but smartphones and tablets are making inroads

What does this mean for retailers:

Technical agility across all devices

  • Ensure that customer information “travels” securely with each device
  • Instill an experience across devices that is consistent -- not necessarily identical

Hear from our retail and consumer industry leaders:

Tom Johnson, PwC US Partner, talks about retailers' ability to personalise the mobile shopping experience.

Transparency, real-time, into a retailer's inventory

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • When asked which of nine in-store technologies would make for a better shopping experience, 46% of our sample want the “ability to check other store or online stock quickly”
  • 20% percent chose “none of the above”

What does this mean for retailers:

The back-office needs to move at the speed of the customer

  • Fulfill customer desire for transparency with more robust inventory tracking tools
  • Enable faster decision-making across the supply chain
  • Understand your audience and their appetite for technological “bells and whistles” through market research

Hear from our retail and consumer industry leaders:

Ilya Bahar, PwC Canada Partner, talks about how technology can expand a retailer's business model.

My favourite retailers are everywhere

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • Customers want an "always-on" experience
  • After a store closure, consumers look to that retailer's next physical store
  • But customer loyalty has a limit: 4 in 10 of our survey participants were willing to consider turning to a competitor when confronted by the closure of a local store

What does this mean for retailers:

Store portfolio management needs to be elevated into strategic discussions

  • Obtain a true picture of store profitability by comparing store sales with local online sales data
  • Upgrade in-store technology
  • Consider becoming more valuable to consumers by offering non-traditional retail services, like health care and insurance

Hear from our retail and consumer industry leaders:

Marc Diepstraten, PwC Netherlands Partner, talks about how inner-city shopping districts are shrinking.

To maximise the value of mobile shopping, both store apps and mobile sites must improve

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • Fast-growing enthusiasm for mobile shopping
  • Online shoppers are split in their preference for mobile browsers versus apps
  • For our mobile shoppers who said they prefer browsers over apps, 48% said because it was more convenient, while just 29% said it was due to speed

What does this mean for retailers:

If the business can afford it, ramp up apps to improve the experience but make sure the mobile site is optimised

  • First, ensure a convenient-to-use, optimised mobile browser, so the business is not losing would-be new customers
  • Then invest in mobile apps to improve the consumer experience

Two-way social media engagement

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • Retailers should be active online, ready to interact at any hour
  • 58% of our global sample discovered a new brand on social media
  • 55% of our global sample researched consumer electronics and computers using social media sites

What does this mean for retailers:

Most retailers need to reverse their organisational approach to social media

  • Listen to voice of the customer commenting on your products
  • Transform portions of that commentary into actionable data
  • Use that data to spark product ideas
  • Reach out to customers via social media to see what they think of those ideas via contests, polls, etc.
  • “Broadcast out” that new product selection

Hear from our retail and consumer industry leaders:

Adnan Akan, PwC Turkey Partner, comments on the popularity of social media in Turkey -- and the impacts for global retailers.

“Brands” act like retailers, and we'll treat them that way

Here’s what global online shoppers said:

  • Our respondents see few distinctions between retailers and manufacturers when purchasing
  • 70% of U.S. participants made purchases directly from the manufacturer
  • The most popular product category to purchase directly from a manufacturer was clothing and footwear, with 51% or our global sample doing so

What does this mean for retailers:

While DTC is a threat to Total Retail, extending a hand to CPGs may be the smartest move

  • Increase partnership between retailers and manufacturers, such as private label
  • Partner with manufacturers to share consumer insights and collaborate on category management in order to enlarge the pie and drive more success for both