ADAPTABILITY THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Research shows that retailers today need to quickly react to the unique demands of Internet savvy consumers by integrating their physical and online stores
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 Taobao.com 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.