Customers are more willing to share personal info, but online retailers must deliver on omnichannel experience

Australians are increasingly turning to online shopping, according to the findings of an IBM global consumer study. 15% of the 1800 Australian consumers surveyed said their last purchase was online, up from 5% in 2013.

 

Customers are also becoming more comfortable with their smartphones’ capability, with 34% willing to share location information, up from 18% two years ago. 31% of those surveyed would be willing to share their mobile number with retailers and 15% would share their social handle.

“The early days of mobile commerce were marked by concern over the sharing of location-based information – which can be of great value to retailers – but consumers are rapidly getting over their concerns,” said the report, titled ‘Greater expectations: Consumers are asking for tomorrow, today’.

With 48% of Australians visiting a social media site multiple times a day, posts about products and retailers are becoming more commonplace.

32% of consumers have posted online about a retailer with whom they have shopped and 19% have posted about items they have purchased.

The study results also suggest a decrease in consumer advocacy and a surge in brand antagonists. Consumer advocacy fell from 32% in 2013 to 13% in 2014, while antagonists increased from 5% in 2013 to 24% in 2014. However, antagonism was at its worst in five years back in 2011 when it was at 46%.

The report identified a continuing challenge for Australian retailers to keep pace with the rapidly changing expectations of the technology-empowered consumer. In order to deliver a seamless shopping experience in-store and online to drive increased loyalty, the report recommended the following top five omnichannel capabilities expected of Australian retailers:

  1. Price consistency across channels,
  2. in-store, locate out-of-stock item and have it shipped home,
  3. consistent assortment across channels,
  4. loyalty program benefits, both online and in-store, and
  5. in-store return of online purchases.

 

The study identified four classes of consumers based on their expectations of retailers’ omnichannel maturity:

  • Trailblazers (5% of consumers),
  • tech-intrigued (18%),
  • transitioning (39%), and
  • traditional (38%).

 

Trailblazers were identified as the most vocal group on and offline, being early adopters of technology with greater spending power. IBM suggests that retailers who convert trailblazers into advocates will reap rewards across all consumers groups.

Retailers should benchmark against the trailblazer shopper, recommended Ian Wong, Australia New Zealand retail industry leader at IBM Global Business Services.

“Retailers need to focus their investment on energising the store experience using mobile and social combined with location based technologies, deliver on the promise of omnichannel – a seamless and consistent offering across in-store and online. With customer’s rapid adoption of technology, and the use of this technology to engage, endorse and buy with retailers, the need for retailers to invest has never been so vital to their survival.”

Margy Osmond, chief executive officer of Australian National Retailers Association highlighted the importance of retailers delivering individualised shopping experiences to build stronger relationships with consumers and keep spending onshore.

“Consumers are entering stores with more information about the type of product they want to purchase than ever before. We are time poor and technologically rich and as consumers we are looking for experiences and conveniences.”

Michelle Herbison
BY Michelle Herbison ON 12 August 2014
Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.