Customer Research

Consumer Trends Every Aussie Retailer Needs to Know About

Providing an outstanding digital shopping experience that not only meets, but exceeds customer expectations is something that is currently lacking in Australia, according to the 2015 report by CitiXsys and Taverner Research, ‘The Era of Unlimited Shopping Possibilities’.

The following will explore the current consumer market trends in Australia that you need to know, and what consumers expect from you in the current digital world.

The era of unlimited shopping possibilities

The key finding of the survey of 514 Australian and New Zealand shoppers between the ages of 18 and 65, was that Australian retailers are clearly lagging behind when it comes to offering a seamless and enjoyable online shopping experience to their customers. While 52% of Australians viewed online shopping as a more convenient option than shopping at a bricks and mortar retail store, 29% believed that they were also more likely to have a disappointing experience when doing their shopping online than if they went in store.

More than half of Australians shoppers surveyed said they research a product once or more before buying it in store, so wanted stores to use their knowledge of how customers shop online to provide a better customer service experience in the store.

Brian Walker, Retail Doctor Group founder, told Ragtrader, “The research from CitiXsys shows the importance of combining a strong physical store presence seamlessly with an online and digital presence.”

He went on to say, "Only by implementing omnichannel strategies will retailers provide shoppers with a fully integrated shopping journey, which is what they increasingly expect from brands."

The importance of adopting an omnichannel approach is reflected in the survey, with 40% of Aussie shoppers stating that they had used click-and-collect options, 26% having purchased a product in store for pick up at another store location and 42% purchasing an item in store for it to be delivered to their home.

Australian shoppers want to see more integration between their digital and in store experience with 39% of 18-34 year old Australians wanting membership and loyalty offers sent to their phones directly, the moment they walk into a bricks and mortar store. And the desire for a better level of integration doesn’t stop there, with shoppers stating that they believed that in-store kiosks/digital help desks and free Wi-Fi would enhance their experience when shopping.

From these results it can be seen that retailers must up their digital game and their channel integration if they are to remain strong against overseas players who are slowly creeping into the Australian marketplace and have the omnichannel approach down pat.

Reducing the gaps between what’s on offer and consumer expectations

Shipping software platform, Temando, has released a new report called ‘The State of Shipping in Commerce 2016’ which clearly outlines the gaps Australian retailers need to bridge with their consumers. Of the 800 retailers and the 4,000 consumers surveyed in Australia, France, United Kingdom and the United States, 212 retailers and 1,011 consumers were Australian. The size of the businesses surveyed ranged from those who send out five to twenty deliveries weekly to those who shipped out more than 100,000 over a seven day period.

According to the survey, shipping was one of the biggest turnoffs for consumers. 70% of Australian shoppers abandon their shopping cart because the cost of shipping was too high and 47% didn’t go through with a purchase because the cost of shipping was communicated too late in the purchase. It is also interesting to note that 80% of customers surveyed wanted a specific time slot for delivery but only 31% of the retailers surveyed offered this to their customers as an option. 94% of customers wanted to be notified of a specific shipping date, while only 56% of retailers provided this information. And finally, 96% of shoppers who were surveyed said that they wanted the ability to track their item online. Clear communication between the online retailer and customer in regards to shipping is an important trend that retailers need to be aware of if customer satisfaction is to be achieved.

In an article for Power Retail, Carl Hartmann, CEO and co-founder of Temando was quoted as saying, “the gap between consumer expectation and retailer capability is growing. The future belongs to retailers who capitalise on this opportunity and turn shipping and fulfilment into a retail weapon.”

Shipping wasn’t the only area where the survey highlighted a clear disparity between what was being offered and what was expected of retailers. Returns was also seen as a huge area for improvement. The survey revealed that 91% of Aussies had returned an item they purchased online because it was not the same as what was described on the website. The main reason for returns was incorrect sizing, while goods arriving broken and goods not looking as they did online was also listed as a reason.

Australians are wanting to spend more

IBM’s Australian data from their 2015 Global Smarter Consumer study showed that while consumer confidence to spend more is on the rise, the lack of personalised customer service experiences is leading to a downtrend in customer loyalty and engagement.

One of the key concerns highlighted in the survey was the lack of transparent inventory. Among the most appealing capabilities for a retailer from the point of view of a customer was having the ability to go online and see if an item is in store before visiting the shop.

Then there is the focus on providing a more personalised customer service experience in store, with store staff being able to offer customers their own individual promotions based on their purchase history. 25% of survey respondents cited this as an important feature they wanted to experience while shopping.

With all of this in mind, it is clear that Australian retailers need to invest further into providing a seamless experience across all customer touch points in order to increase engagement, maintain customer loyalty and to remain competitive in an increasingly global retail marketplace.

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Fergus Koochew

Fergus Koochew

Fergus Koochew is the Managing Director of Edge. With a strong background in consulting and strategy, Fergus has led the digital transformation of the business and is dedicated to helping brands and agencies bring their promotional ideas to life.