Re­search shows that re­tail­ers to­day need to quickly re­act to the unique de­mands of In­ter­net savvy con­sumers by in­te­grat­ing their phys­i­cal and on­line stores

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By YU RAN in Shang­hai


The key to suc­cess in to­day’s fast-chang­ing re­tail land­scape is be­ing able to adapt quickly while of­fer­ing an in­te­grated shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence via on­line and off­line plat­forms, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by global pro­fes­sional ser­vices com­pany Ac­cen­ture.

Shop­pers world­wide, es­pe­cially in China, are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly In­ter­net savvy, mean­ing that mo­bile ac­ces­si­bil­ity has be­come a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ac­cord­ing to Ac­cen­ture’s re­search, 73 per­cent of Chi­nese con­sumers use their smart­phones to browse for goods and ser­vices fre­quently while about 40 per­cent pre­fer to re­ceive real-time pro­mo­tional no­ti­fi­ca­tions and credit coupons via their smart­phones.

In ad­di­tion, 80 per­cent of cus­tomers have web-roomed or show-roomed within the last year. Web-room­ing is the act of brows­ing items on­line be­fore mak­ing a pur­chase in a phys­i­cal store. Show­room­ing, on the other hand, refers to brows­ing prod­ucts in a phys­i­cal store be­fore buy­ing it on­line.

How­ever, re­search has shown that there are only a few re­tail­ers that are able to pro­vide such ser­vices for cus­tomers, with just 7 per­cent of shops in the world pro­vid­ing up­dated in­for­ma­tion of dis­counts and sales on prod­ucts through mo­bile plat­forms.

In China, there are only 4 per­cent of re­tail­ers — the global av­er­age is 28 per­cent — that are able to pro­vide up-to-date stock sta­tus for con­sumers.

“Re­tail­ers must make ev­ery ef­fort to im­prove their mo­bile com­merce ca­pa­bil­i­ties and keep up with con­sumers’ ex­pec­ta­tions. To be an adap­tive re­tailer, the ex­pe­ri­ence needs to be seam­less for con­sumers who ex­pect mo­bile de­vices to ease the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, both on­line and in-store,” said Yew Hong Koh, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, re­tail lead for Ac­cen­ture Asia Pa­cific.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, smart­phones are the pre­ferred mo­bile de­vice when it comes to mak­ing pur­chases across cat­e­gories, and more shop­pers have in­di­cated an in­crease in their pur­chases via smart­phones com­pared to tablets.

Chi­nese con­sumers in par­tic­u­lar pre­fer to make pur­chase on so­cial plat­forms (74 per­cent) like WeChat and on­line shops (70 per­cent) like that of­fer door-todoor de­liv­ery ser­vice.

“I don’t have time to go to stores to shop. In­stead, I reg­u­larly browse goods and make pur­chases on­line us­ing my mo­bile de­vice as this is more con­ve­nient. Shop­ping on­line is also an­other way to re­lax and kill time,” said Chen Yan­qing, a senior man­ager at a for­eign-in­vested com­pany in Shang­hai.

The re­port also re­vealed that while busi­nesses are be­gin­ning to pay closer at­ten­tion to con­sumers’ on­line shop­ping de­mands, many are still not able to meet ex­pec­ta­tions in two key ar­eas: in­store and seam­less shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of con­sumers were found to be frus­trated with the lack of vis­i­bil­ity across the re­tail chan­nel, es­pe­cially when it comes to check­ing prod­uct avail­abil­ity.

This year, 34 per­cent of Chi­nese shop­pers, com­pared to 17 per­cent a year ago, in­di­cated that be­ing able to as­cer­tain prod­uct avail­abil­ity prior to mak­ing a trip to the store would help to pro­vide a more seam­less shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Vis­i­bil­ity across chan­nels is be­com­ing more im­por­tant to Chi­nese con­sumers. How­ever, less than 20 per­cent of­fer this ca­pa­bil­ity. Re­tail­ers must be­gin to look at their busi­nesses from the con­sumer’s per­spec­tive and place dig­i­tal at the very core of the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence if they want to suc­ceed,” said Koh.

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