Digital is not stealing shoppers, but it is arming them with information: survey

Australian shoppers are not abandoning the shopping mall this Christmas, but they are coming armed with the best pricing and product information on what they want courtesy of digital retail tools, according to the latest research from Effective Measure, the Australia-founded online measurement firm.

The retail sector may experience a subdued holiday spending season according to Effective Measure’s first annual ‘Australian Shopping Intentions Report’ released today, with only 25% of survey respondents stating that they would spend more this Christmas compared to last year. But for the consumer, the rise of digital tools at their fingertips will mean that the shopping experience will be far more targeted and cost effective.

Effective Measure survey respondents revealed that price comparison sites are driving digital traffic for the astute shopper, with more men taking the lead in their price gathering information than women. While consumers are clearly displaying a behavioural shift in extracting value for money, which has been fuelled by the power of data – whether via the mobile or online – the report reveals that consumers are more likely to use their digital information to make a transaction in store.

Dinesh Arasaratnam, Effective Measure’s regional MD for Oceania, says that, “Digital versus physical retail is not a ‘David and Goliath’ battle anymore, it is actually emerging as a complimentary status quo, where the consumer is the winner.”

Arasaratnam says retailers need to see that their greatest opportunity rests in understanding how their data is the key to more effective business performance: “Collecting on and offline data is one step but extracting the value from it and applying that to retail strategy and customer engagement is now key.”

The survey found that although shoppers use digital channels to source product information, they largely remain traditionalists in doing their shopping in retail outlets. One-third of women surveyed said they do the majority of their shopping online while only 23% of men said that they would buy their gifts online.

Arasaratnam cautions that despite the fact that traditional retailers can feel the digital disruption shifting consumer behaviour and purchasing power, there are many that continue to ignore the opportunities that are being delivered by an integrated channel strategy where digital engagement can actually help power an uplift in in-store sales.

In other findings, offshore online purchases were now part of the core shopping list budget with men nominating an overseas budget of AUD$313 while women had AUD$216 allocated for overseas shopping. The leading overseas online shopper market in Australia is the ACT.

Price and discounting are commonly seen as the drivers for online shoppers but the survey points to customer retention through loyalty programs and the role of gift incentives to keep customers happy, the report reveals.

This week Effective Measure is also launching a tool for retailers designed to give information on the demographic profile of shoppers at a store, line or product level.