Hourglass: Making the Most of Your People
Customers Take Control
How the multi-channel shopper is changing the global retail landscape.
Rarely a day passes by that one of us doesn't have a conversation with a colleague or client about multi-channel retailing. The specific discussions run the gamut from the prosaic, such as the tax ramifications of selling online across borders, to the hypothetical, such as what the retail store of the future will look like.
But we always end up focused on global consumers' online behaviour. Consumers have amazing options at their fingertips: information, services, and - not least - the ability to shop from anywhere via any number of personal technology devices.
The question for retailers over the next three to five years is how online shopping behaviour will continue to evolve. Retailers can glean some valuable information from their own customer data, but that doesn't shed light on how millions of other shoppers are behaving.
That's why we undertook this effort to study the habits and preferences of online shoppers from eight different markets, including the US, China, Hong Kong, Germany, France, the UK, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. If we can help our consumer and retail clients spot burgeoning trends in the data, they will have a better chance of identifying patterns and planning their response. Our findings have both surprised us - for example, many more global online shoppers are following brands using social media that we would have thought - and confirmed much of the anecdotal evidence our teams have been seeing across the eight markets covered by the survey.
One of the biggest overall conclusions is that consumers are leading the way in multi-channel shopping, with many retailers lagging behind in terms of meeting their needs. Today's global retailers have a huge opportunity to enhance the the mechanisms necessary to keep up with shoppers who are demanding more customisation in terms of delivery and returns, product choice, and number of channels from which to choose.
To increase the value of this paper for our clients, we've taken the liberty of leveraging the insights from our data to make several observations about how retailers can better support their online customers - and attract new ones. For instance, we note that retailers need to become far more innovative with their online presences; reboot their physical formats to emphasise quality and customer enjoyment, not price and selection (which is typically researched online); and align themselves with how the growing middle classes in emerging markets research and shop for products.