How customers will shop in five years

Stephanie Panecasio 6 October 2017 NEWS

Buying from counter

Despite the convenience of online retailers, a study has shown that even in five years, we still won't be able to get enough of that in-store experience.

If you’re a regular shopper, you know that good customer service is something that can make or break a brand, either online or in person. But it might be more important than you think.

In a recent study conducted by the Australian Consumer, Retail and Services (ACRS) Research Unit and commissioned by Salmat, it was found that in five years' time, customers are most likely to still prefer an in-store experience instead of shopping online, despite the capacity for online personalisation and convenience.

The projection states that in 2022 most customers will split their time fairly evenly between shopping online (45%) and in stores (49%), which reflects the massive popularity of online retailers like Amazon, ASOS and even eBay, while still emphasising the importance of real-life connections.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to split your time between shopping in your pyjamas and browsing the high street?

shopping on bedImage: Shutterstock

The study also reported that customers are expecting to see a mix of both human interaction and technological advancement, but sales assistants shouldn't be too worried – 53% of shoppers wouldn’t let the technology do the shopping for them, so that’s a big no to facial and body recognition software for now.

Meanwhile, online shoppers are even more hesitant to share their personal details with technology, and when it comes to personalising the experience, 58% would prefer to hear advice from a real sales assistant.

Ultimately, the study shows one crucial factor: human connection. Shoppers thrive on the interactions with assistants, fellow customers and even their friends or family as part of the whole shopping experience. Even shopping online can be a group experience, helping each other decide what to purchase and getting advice from your friends.

Sean Sands, the Managing Director at ACRS, said, "Humans are essentially descendants of hunters and gathers, and we still desire the 'hunt of the kill' which translates today to touching, feeling and experiences of physical space. Online is an important component of the retail mix, and for the next five years at least, in-store will continue to be the central hub for consumer interactions and shopping experiences.”

The future may hold virtual reality wardrobes à la Cher Horowitz, but for customers at the moment, it’s just not the same as a good old fashioned shopping date.

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