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Thought leadership

By Steve Hurst, Editorial Director at Engage Business Media

Interesting new research in this week’s newsletter highlights how holiday shopping will be different this year. The survey of 2,000 UK and US consumers reveals how, with close on half of shoppers planning to spend less this holiday season, and more than a third spending less in Black Friday sales, retailers will need to provide a multitude of shopping experience options if they are to maximise revenues and in man y instances stay in business.

Uncovering how the recent surge to online shopping is more nuanced than previously thought, the Rewriting the rules of engagement report exposes how consumers are using a host of tools to ‘channel hop’ their way to the experiences they want. It also highlights that these changing behaviours are anticipated to stick long-term. Since the pandemic began, more than half say they shopped online for items that would previously have been purchased in-store. Over a third also said they had explored the very latest channels available, including shopping by appointment, audio and video personal shopping consultations, and click and collect/kerbside pickup.

Despite all the hype, however, virtual and augmented reality technologies were met with muted enthusiasm by the overwhelming majority of shoppers; less than one in ten of US consumers had tried out these types of immersive technologies in the past six months. The research highlights how the days of spontaneous shopping sprees are becoming a thing of the past. More than half of UK consumers say they are now far more likely to schedule an appointment to visit a store than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

John Federman, CEO at JRNI, commented on the findings, “When budgets are tight, retailers have to work harder to compete for spend. It requires recognizing that consumers are far more advanced and willing to embrace new ways of shopping – on- and offline – than businesses give them credit for. We use phrases like ‘omnichannel’ to describe scenarios as though every consumer wants to move seamlessly across everything a retailer, for example, has to offer. However, we have to turn that idea inside out and remember that for consumers it’s all about experience, and always has been. A consumer will choose the experience they want, based on the service or goods they are buying, and then the channel. The businesses that will be rewarded with brand loyalty are those delivering great experiences in stores and online.”

The issues and challenges thrown up by this research will be examined in detail at our upcoming flagship free-to-attend Virtual Customer Engagement Summit next month. Look forward to welcoming you there.

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