Canadian shoppers want it all – online and offline – when it comes to retail

Convenient locations, e-commerce sites and a mobile site or app are now the price of entry for retailers, according to a new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The 2014 Total Retail survey found that Canadians still enjoy shopping at a physical store, citing the ability to see, touch and try the merchandise, and immediate access to […]

Convenient locations, e-commerce sites and a mobile site or app are now the price of entry for retailers, according to a new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The 2014 Total Retail survey found that Canadians still enjoy shopping at a physical store, citing the ability to see, touch and try the merchandise, and immediate access to products as the top benefits.

But in-store, consumers want technology to help enhance the shopping experience. Nearly half (47%) said they want the ability to quickly check stock in other stores or online. Consumers would also like sales associates to take payment on the sales floor (28%) and in-store Wi-Fi with fast, simple log-in (27%).

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“The physical store still offers consumers that tangible aspect that cannot be replaced,” said Ilya Bahar, national leader, retail consulting at PwC, in a release. “However, online channels enhance the shopping experience—ultimately, it doesn’t matter where or how consumers actually make their purchases, they want technology that provides them with convenience, easy access to information and a transparent, real-time view of the retailer’s inventory.”

Customers also expect retailers to tailor product recommendations and offers based on their past purchases. And the survey suggests Canadian retailers are getting better at it: 19% of respondents who visit brands’ social sites were attracted by an e-mail or text-message promotion, up from 10% the previous year. Over one in four respondents (27%) took part in retailers’ social media competitions or contests, up from 23%. Sixty per cent of respondents said they shop at retailers because they like the loyalty program.

“We weren’t surprised that consumers want a tailored experience. They’re saying, ‘I want to shop my way,’” said Ted Salter, a partner in consulting and deals at PwC, in an interview with Marketing. “Retailers are trying to get a better understanding of consumers’ shopping behaviours and trying to come back with more personalized offerings.”

Other survey highlights include:

Smaller shopping footprint: Canadian shoppers are increasingly keen to buy products from a select set of retailers. Excluding grocery, 15% of shoppers said they shopped with just one retailer, up from 6% the previous year. Nearly half (44%) said they shopped with two to five retailers, up from 40% the prior year. Less than a third (31%) said they shopped with six to 10 retailers, down from 40% last year.

Security woes: 52% of Canadian respondents who don’t shop online said it was because they were worried about the security of their personal data—up from 42% the previous year. Thirty-eight per cent refrain from shopping on mobile devices because of security worries.

Online on the rise: In Canada, 87% of consumers shop online at least once a year, and nearly half (49%) do so on at least a monthly basis. Respondents cite the ability to shop from home and to shop 24/7 as reasons for purchasing online, and 55% of shoppers believe they can find better deals online than in-store.

Mobile shopping catching on: 85% of consumers have used their mobile device to compare prices, 84% to locate a physical store and 87% to research products. Twenty-nine per cent have made purchases using their smartphones and 26% have made purchases using tablets. But 36% said they don’t use their smartphones for e-commerce because the screens are too small.

PwC conducted the Total Retail survey in 15 countries. More than 15,000 individuals participated in the global survey, including 1,002 in Canada.

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