Despite widespread smartphone usage, retailers have yet to truly connect with shoppers

shutterstock_126504698Research from leading independent shopper research agency, Shoppercentric, examines UK shoppers and how they use digital and traditional touchpoints through their purchase journey.

The report, entitled: “WindowOn…Connected Shoppers” is the result of more than 1,000 UK shoppers (aged 16+ who own a smartphone) surveys and two focus groups of early technology adopters who use their smartphone as part of the purchase process.

Key learnings:

Smartphone and app usage for shopping:

  • 70% of UK shoppers have a smartphone.
  • 30% of smartphone owners have used their smartphone to shop in the last month.
  • On average smartphone owners use five different touchpoints as part of their shopping habits – including shops, online, smartphones etc.
  • Using smartphones as a part of the shopping process has only increased 9% in the past two years despite the significant growth in mobile enabled websites and apps.
  • Of those who don’t regularly use a smartphone as part of the purchase process, 36% expect to in the future. These future users are less involved in technology (less likely to have a tablet / SmartTV / wearable) and are more likely to be 45+ or C2DE.
  • One in three smartphone owners have shopped using an app however only one in ten of all smartphone users regularly use apps as part of the purchase process – suggesting that they are failing to provide the right content.
  • More than twice as many shoppers head for a website on their smartphone when in store, rather than an app.

Who are the smartphone shoppers (in the past month)?

  • 53% of females have used a smartphone for shopping in the last month compared with 47% of men.
  • The age group most likely to have used a smartphone for shopping in the last month is 25-34 year olds (32%).
  • ABC1 shoppers are far more likely to have used a smartphone for shopping in the last month – 63% compared with 37% of C2DE.
  • Location-wise, smartphone users in the north of the UK are most likely to have used their smartphone to shop in the last month (27%) followed by those in London – 19%. The midlands users followed in third place with 18%.

Who are the smartphone app shoppers?

  • In terms of usage, 16-24 year olds top the list of most likely to use them (27%).
  • ABC1 shoppers are far more likely to use apps for shopping – 62% compared with 38% of C2DE.
  • Location-wise, app users in the north of the UK are most likely to have used an app to shop (24%) followed by those in the midlands – 19%. Users in the south east followed in third place with 18%. Just 17% of London smartphone users utilised apps when shopping.

What are smartphone shoppers using the devices for – in store and anywhere?

  • In store smartphone users utilise the devices for sharing ideas the most (47%) followed by comparing prices (29%) and product information (20%). Interestingly sharing photos, taking pictures as a reminder, store location and browsing (with no intention to purchase) were all cited by 17% of respondents.
  • Using a smartphone anywhere for shopping was used primarily for store location information (36%). Using it to get ideas and for seeking out reviews came in joint second place with 32% apiece.

What are the reasons given for not using a smartphone in store?

  • 50% just couldn’t see the benefit in doing so.
  • 27% said that it was too much effort to use in store.
  • 23% said they’d just never thought of it.
  • A lack of free Wifi was also cited by 22%.

What improvements could retailers and brands do to make shoppers happier?

  • Better value for money topped the list (81%) followed by discounts for loyalty (64%) and better customer services (38%).
  • Making shopping easier (30%) and quicker (26%) were also highly requested.
  • Shoppers also said they would ‘love’ clearer returns time periods, sites being able to hold basket contents, prompted ideas (e.g. other people have…), better guarantees, Click&collect options, to be able to return online orders to store and to be able to find stock in other stores/online.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric said: “Life is feeling busier than ever and one in three shoppers want the shopper process made easier so there’s a real need to better connect, especially since – as our research shows – shoppers really are willing and open to this approach, but only if there’s a clear benefit to them and a seamless process. It’s really important to view the whole shopper experience and all of the channels and opportunities there are to sell to and fully connect with shoppers.”

“Smartphones have allowed shoppers to achieve the ultimate in self-service, able to manage and personalise their process to a certain degree. Yet there are times when retailers or brands could and should step in and deliver personal touches to help them get it right the first time. This should be where the real strengths of ‘connected shopping’ come into play – the ability to set up systems which allow the shopper to easily switch between self-service and proactive assistance. Remember there will always be times when helpful input could make the difference for a shopper.”