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Global survey of 12,000 consumers reveals that personalization and convenience are universal desires shared by all shoppers

Today’s retail environment is more complex than ever, given the rise of e-commerce and a rediscovery of the age-old truth that “the customer is king.” As retailers across the globe struggle with demands for both personalization and convenience, balanced with consumer scepticism on data privacy, JDA Software, Inc., and Centiro explored consumer trends in key markets in its 2018 Global Consumer Survey, released today.

Shopping in-store remains the most popular experience overall (preferred by 38 percent) although online options were preferred in some of the surveyed countries, such as China where online shopping via mobile/tablet (34 percent) was the preferred option. Regarding in-store shopping, global respondents said that having the right product in stock is the most important aspect of their shopping experience (34 percent) followed by having a variety of products to choose from (29 percent).

Regardless of where transactions ultimately occur, according to the survey, online is the first stop on the shopper journey for clothes (46 percent), home goods (48 percent) and electronics (63 percent). Younger consumers (ages 18-34) are more likely than average to begin their shopping journeys for each of the categories with recommendations from friends or family; the proportion of those who start their purchase journeys with input friends or family decreases among older consumers.

“This notion that stores are dying or there is a ‘retail apocalypse’ is exaggerated. Instead, this is a time for a retail rebirth,” said Lee Gill, group vice president, global retail strategy, JDA “While the industry may refer to it as ‘omni-channel’ retailing, consumers across the globe no longer strongly distinguish between online and in-store channels. All retailers are struggling with balancing the personalization traditionally offered through e-commerce shopping with the convenience of an in-store experience. We see this time and again as more e-commerce retailers are opening brick-and-mortar shops, and traditional retailers are looking to strengthen their digital and direct-to-home fulfillment.”

Balancing Personalization with Privacy

According to the global survey, 40 percent of respondents have used voice-controlled devices or services for some aspect of their shopping journey (ex: Siri, Alexa, Google Home, Tmall Genie, etc.), with 23 percent of those using them to make purchases.

While global consumers continue to embrace new technology for both research and transactions, they are somewhat hesitant about how their personal data is being used. Overall, 75 percent of respondents said they’re concerned about their online and in-store shopping history, such as transaction history and online searches, being used to provide better, more-personalized service .

“While consumers are looking for personalization from retailers in theory, there are still concerns about how their data is being used for the execution,” said Gill. “Both consumers and retailers are trying out emerging technologies to determine what will work to provide the increase level of personalization, while staying within consumers’ current comfort level.

Globally, the majority of respondents who shop in physical retail stores have used some form of emerging technology while shopping, whether it’s mobile coupons or discounts (49 percent) or individual recognition and personalized service based on loyalty programs (26 percent). However, UK consumers who shop in-store were least likely to have tried new technology in their shopper journey, with 70 percent of UK respondents claiming they have not used any emerging technology in stores, while over 90 percent of Chinese in-store shoppers said they have used emerging technology in-store

When asked about the potential of augmented reality (AR), 60 percent of global respondents said they would be more likely to make a purchase if they could use AR to preview products. However, China continues to be more progressive when it comes to advances in retail technology for consumer experience. Ninety percent of Chinese respondents said they would be more likely to purchase items based on AR, as compared to only 32 percent of UK respondents.

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