In our 2016 report, we explore the Canadian results of the Global 2016 Total Retail Survey according to each phase of the customer shopping journey—influence, transact and fulfill —and highlight critical areas of opportunity for Canadian retailers.
We hope that our analysis will not only help retailers understand what matters most to Canadian customers heading into 2016, but also help them determine what changes they could implement in the evolving world of retail.
Almost 40% of Canadian consumers say that reading product reviews, peer reviews or feedback on social media has an influence on their shopping behaviour.
This number is upwards of 55% for those 18–24 years of age. With social media snagging such influence, especially among millennials, it’s not surprising that many retailers want to use social media to grow their brand. And it’s true: for retailers that get it right, social media can be a tool to harness customer feedback, insights and opinions—and to take their brand and customer offerings to the next level.
Customers want communities they can feel they’re a part of—reinforced by brands they trust to support the lifestyle and experiences they’re looking for.
Loyalty and rewards programs are one way that Canadian retailers are creating exclusive communities for their members—and they work. In fact, 95% of Canadian consumers are members of loyalty or rewards programs. The problem? The proliferation of loyalty and rewards programs makes it hard to stand out compared to competitors. Retailers need to provide something unique to attract customer loyalty.
Price is still the major factor in purchasing decisions for most Canadian consumers.
In fact, two-thirds of Canadians say they shop at their favourite retailer because ‘their prices are good.’ Availability of product came second, followed by a good return policy. These suggest that while Canadians may value the experiences that retailers supply, they also want to know they’re getting good value for their money.
While Canadian consumers primarily focus on price when they make purchasing decisions, other factors do matter.
When asked what would increase their preference for buying from a local neighbourhood retailer, 36% mentioned the retailer boosting local employment while 34% mentioned locally produced goods.
By ignoring any particular channel, retailers are missing the potential that channel offers within a customer’s unique shopping journey.
More importantly, a disconnect within one channel can create customer confusion and potentially alienate customers before they get to the purchasing stage of their journey. When it comes to making a profit, the key is customer conversion. Retailers can use every channel to assist with customer conversion, even if the end purchase is typically made through one channel.
Given access to so many different channels, it’s not surprising that the role of the store is evolving.
It’s not simply a place to conduct transactions anymore. For many consumers, it’s the experience of going to the store that matters—from a specialty retailer selling high-end goods to a local coffee shop that has live music on weekends.
When it comes to the in-store channel, store associates are a pivotal part of the customer experience. In fact, 40% of Canadian consumers think a knowledgeable sales associate would make their in-store shopping experience better.
To meet customer demands for personalization and choice while remaining efficient and cost-effective, Canadian retailers might need to adjust their current organizational structure.
Rather than focusing on product and channel, retailers should lean more towards enabling the customer experience and measuring their return across channels. This will not be an easy endeavour, as most retailers will need to build new capabilities, upgrade or improve systems and create linkages between what may have been previously siloed customer channels.
Here in Canada, mobile devices are still a long way from becoming a significant point-of-purchase tool.
While some companies have made inroads into the payment app market, others have failed to achieve traction. Almost two-thirds of Canadian consumers are concerned about having their personal information breached from their mobile phone.